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Tennis

Williams and Kerber move closer to final showdown

Angelique Kerber is seeking her second major of the year.
Angelique Kerber is seeking her second major of the year. Robert Deutsch/USA Today
3 min

The two best players on the women's tennis circuit will on Thursday continue their battle for supremacy when they play their semi-finals. 

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Top seed Serena Williams must get past the 10th seeded Czech Karolina Pliskova, who is playing in her first grand slam singles semi-final. Williams, 34, is seeking her 23rd major singles crown.

Second seed Angelique Kerber gained her first major in January at the Australian Open beating Williams in a thrilling match.

She plays the former world number one Caroline Wozniacki who has twice been a runner-up at Flushing Meadows.

Should Kerber win her second grand slam tournament of the year, she will halt Williams's record breaking reign as world number one. The American has ruled the roost for 187 consecutive weeks.

Williams reached the last four by overcoming the fifth seeded Romanian Simona Halep in three sets.

"I think there is a huge enjoyment in the three-set matches," said Williams after the victory. "But I just feel like you don't get that appreciation until later. Obviously in the moment you want to win fast and you want to win easy and win in straights. You really feel that appreciation much later."

Williams, who is aiming to brandish a seventh US Open, added: "I think Simona's 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."

Pliskova, 24, beat Kerber in August in the final at Cincinnati. "Serena's a big hitter and she can have 50 winners and you cannot do much about it," she said.

Kerber also faces a tricky encounter. Wozniacki reached the final in 2009 and 2014 and the semi-finals in 2010 and 2011. She is ranked 71 in the world following a three month break due to an ankle injury. "I always believe in myself no matter what my ranking," said the Dane after dismissing Anastasija Sevastova 6-0, 6-2 in the quarters. "I've beaten pretty much everyone in the draw before."

Kerber too is suffused with self-belief as she hovers on the cusp of top spot. "I think I've grown a lot in the last few years," said the 28-year-old German. "I'm staying more positive and believing in my game. I'm going out on Arthur Ashe court and playing against top players and I have more confidence going out there. I know that I can beat everybody."

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