Serena Williams was finally tested in this year's US Open 2016, when she had to come through in three sets against Simona Halep in the quarterfinals, and that match might help the American when she plays Karolina Pliskova in the semifinals on Thursday.
The world number one was not broken en route to the quarterfinals, but in Halep she ran into a difficult opponent, who refused to lie down and play dead. As a result, Serena had to dig deep, eventually winning 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.
Serena will, or should, look at the fact that she was finally tested as a positive, because it puts her in a position to be ready when Pliskova asks a few difficult questions in the semifinals.
"I feel great. I'm glad I got tested," Serena told reporters. "The best part of it is I feel like -- I mean, I think her level really picked up in the second, but I had some opportunities that I didn't take.
"So what I gather from that is I really could have played better in that second set and maybe had an opportunity to win in straights. I think if anything, that's the biggest silver lining I take."
Going by the manner in which Pliskova has entered the semifinals, Serena can expect a difficult match at the Arthur Ashe Stadium on Thursday evening, especially if the No.10 seed starts serving big, like she has most of the tournament. Pliskova will take the confidence of beating Serena's sister Venus, in the fourth round, into the semifinal.
"I played her once only," Pliskova said of facing Serena. "I was in Stanford I think two or three years ago. I was completely different player at that time, so I am I improve a lot and obviously she probably as well. She's a big hitter and she can, you know, have 50 winners and you cannot do much about it.
"But I still going to hope that there is going to be some chance in the match where I can get my chance and be the one who is playing aggressive. Obviously I played Venus this week, which is not probably that good as she is, but it's very similar game."
The second semifinal could turn out to be the more entertaining one, with Angelique Kerber, playing the best tennis of her life, playing a resurgent Caroline Wozniacki. Not too long ago, this matchup would have seen Wozniacki as the higher ranked player, but come semifinal day, it will be Kerber who starts as the clear favourite.
Kerber is ranked No.2 in the world at the moment, while Wozniacki is way down at 74, having lost in the first round of all three of the previous Grand Slams this year. Wozniacki, though, as she has shown at this US Open, has the talent to beat anyone on her day, and the Dane, who trails Kerber 5-7 in the head to head record, will hope Thursday ends up being her day.
Where to Watch Live
The women's singles semifinals begin at 7 p.m. local time (4.30 a.m. IST, 12 a.m. BST next day). The first match is Serena vs Pliskova, followed by Wozniacki vs Kerber. Live Streaming and TV information is below.
India: TV: Ten 1 and Ten 1 HD. Live Streaming: Tensports live.
US: TV: ESPN2. Live Streaming: Watch ESPN.
Europe: TV: EuroSport. Live Streaming: EuroSport Player.
Canada: TV: TSN. Live Streaming: TSN TV.
Australia: TV: Fox Sports. Live Streaming: Foxtel.
Middle East: TV: Bein Sports Arabia. Live Streaming: Bein Sports Connect.
International: Live Streaming: US Open website.