Tournament favourite Serena Williams and surprise package Ekaterina Makarova will take on each other at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in the semifinals of the 2014 US Open on Friday night.
World no.1 Willaims has eased into the semis as expected, ripping apart her opponents with her aggressive approach to the game so far. The American is yet to drop a set in the tournament so far and, in fact, has not even come close to doing so.
Williams did, however, suffer a slow start in her quarterfinal against 11th seed Flavia Pennetta. The Italian broke Williams twice straightaway to race to a 3-0 lead in the opening set. However, the 17-time major winner then decided to wake up from her slumber and play a game of tennis, winning the next six games in a row and eventually the match 6-3, 6-2 to book her place in the last four.
The 32-year-old, bidding for her sixth US Open title and third in succession, is determined to make up for a frustrating season - one of the worst in her illustrious career- in which she failed to reach the quarterfinals of any of the other three Grand Slams.
Makarova is clearly the biggest challenge that has come Williams' way in the tournament so far. But the American is no stranger to playing the Russian, afterthe left-hander beat Williams at the 2012 Australian Open, and most recently at the Flushing Meadows itself this year this year - in the doubles, paired with Elena Vesnina.
"I think it will be a good match. She's beaten me before. I am obviously going to go in there and just try to do the best I can. I have played two lefties already and I often practice with Varvara [Lepchenko]. She's a lefty. I think that's been good for me, so I'm ready for the lefty," Williams pointed out, speaking of Makarova.
"Makarova moves well. She doesn't care who she plays, she gives 100%. Those types of players are often difficult to play. She has that serve that can hit - that can go out wide or you never know where it's going to go. She's has a great backhand and she's improved her forehand. It's going to be interesting because she has a lot of momentum going into this match as well."
Williams is right about Makarova's momentum. The Russian has been on top of her game of late, breaking into the top 20 rankings for the first time in her career and, more importantly, reaching her first singles Grand Slam semifinal.
The 25-year-old has impressed en route to the semi, beating a few high-profile stars like Eugenie Bouchard and Victoria Azarenka, and that too without dropping a set. She beat former world no.1 Azarenka 6-4, 6-2 to book her place in the final, and will fancy her chances against Williams.
"Well, she's a great and tough player, yeah? But once I beat her already, so I have a great memory. I have a great feeling of that match. Well, [I will] definitely [try] to stay aggressive. Because she's so aggressive, yes? And I need to be a little bit more aggressive than she is; let her move definitely. I just want to fight," she said on facing Williams.
Makarova will have to play two finals if she defeats Williams, having already made it to the doubles decider with Vesnina.
Where to Watch Live
Williams vs Makarova is scheduled after the first semifinal between Caroline Wozniacki vs Shuai Peng. The match is expected to start around 3.45 pm ET (1.15 am IST, 8.45 pm BST), with live coverage in India on Ten Sports. Viewers can watch the match via live streaming online HERE. International viewers can catch the action for free HERE or listen to the action free HERE.
Eurosport will broadcast matches live in Europe, and the option to live stream the action is HERE. UK viewers can catch the match on Sky Sports or via live streaming HERE. Listen to the action live online on BBC HERE. Catch the action live on ESPN and CBS Sports in the United States or watch online via live streaming HERE or HERE.