The world No. 1 Williams said on Wednesday she never forgets a player who has beaten her, which is a scary proposition for Makarova. Williams leads their head-to-head, 3-1, including a straight-sets drubbing in the third round at the 2012 US Open, but Makarova’s lone victory over her came in the fourth round at that year’s Australian Open. She also holds a victory over the Williams sisters in doubles this week, having defeated them in the quarterfinals with fellow Russian Elena Vesnina.
Having reached her first Grand Slam singles semifinal and first US Open women’s doubles final here, it’s safe to say that Makarova is in the form of her life. Her passing shots up the line have been scary good, and her lefty serve has been giving players fits throughout the tournament. She’ll need to play first-strike tennis and use her powerful baseline shots to keep Serena off balance if she wants a chance at securing an upset.
The most important thing for Williams is to stay loose from the first point. She dropped her serve twice in a row to open up her quarterfinal against Flavia Pennetta, which is something she simply can’t afford to do against Makarova. She also needs to get a high percentage of first serves in so that she can get plenty of free points and looks at short balls off the return.
If Makarova can pull off the win today, she’ll become only the second player in history to defeat Serena in singles and doubles at the same tournament. (Martina Hingis accomplished that feat back in Sydney in 2001.)