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Serena Williams reaches ninth US Open final but says she's still 'on the climb'

Hannah Wilks in WTA Tour 7 Sep 2018
  • Serena Williams reaches her ninth US Open final with a 6-3, 6-0 victory over Anastasija Sevastova
  • 'I'm on the climb, still': Williams says there's more to come despite reaching back-to-back Wimbledon and US Open finals
  • Williams to face Naomi Osaka in Saturday's US Open final
Serena Williams celebrates a point won against Anastasija Sevastova in the semifinals of the US Open (DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)

Six-time US Open champion Serena Williams will face Naomi Osaka in the final of the 2018 edition as she bids for a 24th Grand Slam title, which would tie Margaret Court's all-time record.

Serena Williams defeated Anastasija Sevastova 6-3, 6-0 to reach her ninth US Open final, winning 12 of the last 13 games after a strong start from the Latvian saw her lead 2-0.

Williams has dropped just one set through her US Open campaign so far and the six-time champion is into the final for the first time since she defeated Caroline Wozniacki to claim the title in 2014.

Williams attacks the net (EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Should she beat first-time finalist Naomi Osaka in Saturday's final, Williams will tie Margaret Court's record of 24 major titles overall - an especially ludicrous feat given that 13 of Court's Grand Slam titles came in the amateur era before tennis became professional in 1968.

Not to mention that her run to the final comes just a year after giving birth to her daughter Alexis Olympia - a delivery which was attended by life-threatening complications.

'I got a little emotional out there because last year I was literally fighting for my life in the hospital,' Williams said after the match. 'I think I was on my fourth surgery by now. What is today? I was on my third surgery. I had one more to go still.

'To come from that, in the hospital bed, not being able to move and walk and do anything, now only a year later, I'm not training, but I'm actually in these finals, in two in a row. Like I said, this is the beginning. I'm not there yet. I'm on the climb still.'

Williams made the Wimbledon final in just her fourth event back from maternity leave, but suffered a one-sided defeat to Angelique Kerber. The American has only played two events between Wimbledon and the US Open, suffering the most lopsided defeat of her career to Johanna Konta in San Jose and losing a hard-fought second-round match to Petra Kvitova in Cincinnati, but her performance against Sevastova in the US Open semifinals exemplifies how much fitter and more confident she looks than she did at Wimbledon. 

Latvia's Sevastova, who has made the US Open quarterfinals for three consecutive years since un-retiring in 2015 and beat defending champion Sloane Stephens to reach her first Grand Slam semifinal, made a bright start to the semifinal which was played under the closed roof due to the threat of thunderstorms and high winds, breaking Williams to lead 2-0. But Williams quickly found her feet and broke back for 2-2 when Sevastova missed a backhand drop shot into the net. 

Sevastova congratulates Williams (DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
The backhand drop shot is Sevastova's best shot and the leitmotif of most of her victories, and missing it seemed to rattle the Latvian. Meanwhile, Williams moved smoothly up through the gears, attacking the net whenever possible and winning five straight games to lead 5-2 before Sevastova got one more on the board. The second set was all Serena, who completely dominated when she moved forwards into the court, wrapping up victory in 66 minutes 6-3, 6-0.

'I knew playing against [Sevastova], I felt like I needed to get to the net a little bit more. I know how to play at the net. I have great volleys, or else I wouldn't have won so many Grand Slam doubles titles,' Williams said, referring to the 14 major titles she has won in women's doubles as well as two mixed doubles titles. 

'I know how to do it. It's just the fact of turning it on and actually doing it. Somehow it worked tonight. I actually did it. I've been training on it, practicing it, and it came together.'

Williams's win over Sevastova ended the threat of three US Open semifinal defeats in a row after the American lost to Roberta Vinci in 2015 and Karolina Pliskova in 2016. She will be heavily favoured to win when she faces Osaka in the final, despite having lost her only previous match against the Japanese-American player in one-sided fashion in Miami in March - just Williams's second event back after giving birth the previous September.

'Honestly, it is remarkable, I couldn't have predicted this at all,' Williams said. 'I just feel like there's a lot of growth to still go in my game. That's actually the most exciting part.'

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Serena Williams reaches ninth US Open final but says she's still 'on the climb'

Six-time US Open champion Serena Williams will face Naomi Osaka in the final of the 2018 edition as she bids for a 24th Grand Slam title, which would tie Margaret Court's all-time record

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