US Open Recap: Serena Williams Overcomes Sprained Ankle, Advances to Semifinals

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By Vincent Paul Hidalgo | September 4, 2014 2:00 PM EST

Serena Williams is chasing her sixth Grand Slam win at the U.S. Open and she just got closer to her goal after dispatching Flavia Pennetta of Italy in straight sets, 6-3 and 6-2.

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Serena Williams of the U.S. serves to Flavia Pennetta of Italy in their quarter-final women's singles match at the 2014 U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, September 3, 2014.

The final score did not tell the story of the early struggles of the top seeded player. She was down 0-3 in the first three games. Williams did a turnaround and stretched her streak to 19 matches in the games at Flushing Meadows and into the semifinals.

"I don't feel like I was doing too much wrong", Williams said. "So I said, 'If she keeps it up, she absolutely deserves the win.' And I just tried to do a little better".

Williams fell early when her renowned serves were broken twice by the Italian in the first two games of the match. She was in trouble in her second serve as she was called for stepping on the line, the same error that led to a controversial loss to Kim Clijsters in this same tournament in 2009. She regained her composure and regained the point after the service fault and broke away with 6 consecutive game points to get the set. Her strategy was positioning the ball to the baseline that put pressure on the 11th ranked Italian.

After that first set when Williams showed why she was the world's number 1, Pennetta could have given in but she still put up a brave fight. She banked on four aces in one game that put her ahead of 2-1. That proved to be her last stand as the defending champion broke a love to go ahead for 3-2. She even raised her left fist in a celebratory motion after making a difficult shot.

The victory is all the more impressive given that she just suffered a sprain during her doubles match with sister, Venus. In this one, she displayed her full arsenal, impressive serves and baseline shots placed advanced her cause. Her path to the semi-finals is relatively easy as compared to the bundle of top seeds that were eliminated early on in the tournament.

The 32-year-old's bid to become the first women's tennis player to snatch three consecutive U.S. Open titles will be tested against 17th-seeded Eketerina Makarova on Friday. The other semi-finals match that will determine the last two women standing is between No. 10 Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark and up and coming Chinese Peng Shuai.

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(Photo: REUTERS / Shannon Stapleton)
Serena Williams of the U.S. serves to Flavia Pennetta of Italy in their quarter-final women's singles match at the 2014 U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, September 3, 2014.
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