World No. 1 Serena Williams came into the 2014 US Open with questions about her age, her desire and her performances at the first three Grand Slam events of the 2014 season. Still, it was hard to figure against the five-time US Open champion being one of the final four in New York.
Yet facts are facts: none of the four Open semifinalists scheduled for Friday’s slate – Williams, No. 10 Caroline Wozniacki, No. 17 Ekaterina Makarova or unseeded Peng Shuai – made a major semifinal this year. Only one, Makarova, had been to a Slam quarterfinal before the results of the last two days.
Few predicted this exact foursome, and there are a few interesting facts about their runs that may convince you that each just may be the one to lift a Tiffany & Co. trophy on Sunday:
Serena Williams Fact: When coming into a US Open ranked No. 1, Serena Williams is a perfect 19-0 in singles matches. Undefeated. (For fact checkers, the tournaments in which Williams has entered as the top seed were 2002, last year and this year.) Makarova, who has never been in the Top 10, will have to deal with that on top of the powerful serves, forehands and home-country advantage afforded to the American ace.
Ekaterina Makarova Fact: Makarova has already beaten Williams at this US Open. With Russian compatriot Elena Vesnina, Makarova had a part in knocking out both Serena and sister Venus in the women’s doubles quarterfinals, 6-3, 6-7, 6-2. She’s the only player, man or woman, still in contention for two titles as she and Vesnina will take on International Tennis Hall of Famer Martina Hingis and Serena’s most recent singles opponent, Flavia Pennetta, in the doubles final.
Peng Shuai Fact: The 28-year-old from China is into her first Grand Slam semi after 37 main draw appearances. The last unseeded player at the Open to appear in her first US Open semifinal and win? Try 17-year-old Venus Williams in 1997.
Caroline Wozniacki Fact: The Dane is playing her best tennis since her run as world No. 1 several years ago, but if she is to win this US Open, she’ll have to shed decades of past failures from her seed slot. Since the US Open field of seeds expanded from eight to 16 in 1976 (ans subsequently from 16 to 32 in 2001), never has a No. 10 won the Open. Just once has a No. 10 advanced past the semifinal round, in 2001. The No. 10 to do it? The player Wozniacki will most likely have to beat to achieve the feat: Serena Williams, who lost to Venus in the first prime-time women's final in Open history. Another fun Wozniacki fact? She is the only of the four semifinalists to have dropped a set in this year's event.
So, fans, it's time to sound off: which fact about the women's semifinalists is most sensational?