It was a dominant performance from 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams as she continues her long pursuit for number 24, a chase which has begun since January 2017. Going up against her tougher challenger at the US Open thus far, Williams handled the pressure and expectations well, beating world number five Elina Svitolina 6-3, 6-1 after suffering an early scare to book a place in her 33rd Major final, and her 10th in New York.
Williams put up a commanding performance against the first-time US Open semifinalist Svitolina, blasting 33 winners to just 20 unforced errors in this one-sided 70-minute encounter. Saving all six break points she faced, albeit all in the first set, the crowd favourite fired six aces and lost just four points behind her dominant first serves to seal her spot in the final, hoping to make amendments for three consecutive Major final losses.
It was a terrific Grand Slam season for Svitolina, who used to be known for her struggles at the Majors prior to 2019. This year alone, she reached the quarterfinals at the Australian Open while making her debut last-four appearances at Wimbledon and now at Flushing Meadows. Factoring her lingering knee injury earlier this year which affected her clay season, Svitolina will be very pleased with her progress. This run will take her to the third spot in the rankings, though she will only be ranked 10th on the Porsche Race to Shenzhen leaderboard despite her achievements.
Williams, after her disappointments in Melbourne and Paris, reached back-to-back finals in London and New York and finds herself ranked fourth on the live Porsche Race to Shenzhen leaderboard while remaining at eighth in the actual rankings. She will face either the unbeatable Bianca Andreescu or a familiar rival in Belinda Bencic in the highly-intrigued final on Saturday.
Williams snatches the early lead and never looks back
The slow start from Williams was inevitable as she conceded multiple break point opportunities in the opening game, but she was able to produce a series of powerful serves and destructive forehands to survive the early thriller. Svitolina had her chances but failed to capitalize on them. It was a bright start from the Ukrainian as she built up a 40-0 lead on her serve, but it all went downhill from there as Williams punished her vulnerable second serves to earn the early break in a marathon 18-point game.
Similar to her first Major semifinal at Wimbledon against Simona Halep, Svitolina lost a tight opening game and the consequences were dire as Williams ultimately surged towards an early 3-0 lead. She was struggling to manage her second serves while her opponent was just spraying winners from every part of the baseline, making it difficult for her to play her solid game.
It seemed like the momentum had shifted hands as Svitolina finally got onto the scoreboard with a clean hold, before owning a 0-40 lead on the return. The comeback door was slammed shut by Williams, who produced some magical shots, including a serve-and-volley winner, to keep her advantage.
Time was running out for Svitolina as opportunities came and went, but she was not making life easier for herself as she adopted a passive playing style today, contrary to the world-class controlled aggression she had displayed over the past fortnight. Williams eventually closed out the opening frame 6-3, with the games being much closer than the score would suggest, but, the genre of this match made it feel like the American was dominating play.
Williams strolls to the comfortable win
Things got interesting when Svitolina sent down four consecutive unreturnable serves to start the second set, and she knew that she had to serve well in order to have any chance of creating the upset. Williams followed suit, but from there, it was one-way traffic as she was simply firing on all cylinders.
It seemed as though Svitolina had nothing left in her tank while Williams was growing with confidence after each point won. A double-break advantage quickly ensued as the fans started to get on their feet to applaud the excellence of several winners by the 23-time Major champion. Passive play from Svitolina, unfortunately, proved to be her downfall as Williams stormed towards the impressive and quick 6-3, 6-1 win under the lights of Arthur Ashe Stadium.