US Open day 9 recap: Serena Williams and the American dream

Sloane Stephens reacts after missing a shot against Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia during the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open tennis tournament Tuesday Sept. 4 2018 in New York

Serena Williams of the United States serves to Karolina Pliskova of Czech Republic in a quarter-final match on day nine of the 2018 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Her shots lacked their usual sting, her attitude its usual conviction. She hits a good ball. In addition to trying her hand at reporting and commentating, she's coaching in her hometown in Georgia and says she's not quite sure which avenue she wants to pursue full time.

A match that looked to be in question for Serena Williams early on turned into yet another dominating performance by the six-time US Open champion on Tuesday night. It was Williams' first win over a top-10 player this season.

"I just play them instinctively, and that's how they work, or don't work sometimes."

Pliskova got another chance when Williams batted a forehand into the net, but another booming serve, a backhand victor and an unreturnable serve saw her safely through the danger.

"I was having a baby this time past year, so I've got nothing to prove".

"I'd been a couple steps away at the last Grand Slam, so I'm definitely not ahead of myself", she said.

"I'm here to do my best", Williams said. But regardless this has been a great road.

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That was the blueprint Williams followed Tuesday to fight her way back from down 3-1 in the first set and save three break points to take the game and keep fighting. "I don't think there's any change with her game".

Sevastova, who avenged last year's quarter-final loss to Stephens in NY to reach her first Grand Slam semi, converted five of her eight break points and saved seven of the nine against her on the Arthur Ashe Stadium court. "I still know that no matter whether I'm in the semifinals or the finals, I have a really long way to go to win".

"Well I don't know", Williams said of how she engineered the turnaround.

After taking a 4-1 lead in the second set, Sevastova admitted she had flash backs to last year's quarter-finals, when an 83rd-ranked Stephens rallied from a break down in the third to upset Sevastova in a tiebreaker.

Following Sloane Stephens' exit, Williams is the only former grand slam champion left in the draw and her status as the favourite to win a record-equalling 24th singles title increases with every passing match. Now, she has not only made it to her maiden grand slam quarterfinal, but she also became the first Latvian woman to make it to the US Open semifinal.

Sevastova first shot to fame in 2010 when she reached the semifinal of Monterrey Open, beating the then-world No. 9, Jelena Jankovic.

Her last-16 match against Kanepi was the only time any of Williams' matches thus far have gone beyond two sets. She went 15 of 21 in her fourth round at net.

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