What looks like a lopsided college football score was actually the point disparity between Serena Williams and her fourth round opponent, Andrea Hlavackova. It was even bloodier than Alabama’s pummeling of Michigan this past weekend.
Williams played the 57-minute 6-0, 6-0 drubbing like she was in a hurry to avoid Labor Day traffic. The two had never met in singles before, but they were not strangers; Williams and her sister, Venus, beat Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka in the doubles finals of both Wimbledon and the Olympics. Hlavackova must have done something in one of those matches to piss Serena off.
This was Hlavackova’s first appearance in the U.S. Open singles main draw after failing to qualify on five occasions. Her biggest claim to fame had been that her father, Jan, is brewmaster for the Czech beer Pilsner Urquell. But she’s been playing the best singles of her career lately, reaching a ranking high of No. 81 the week before the Open, and beating No. 12 Maria Kirilenko two days ago. So reaching the round of 16—the furthest she has ever gone in a Slam—was no small personal achievement.
But her best work is done on the doubles court, winning three tournaments this year and 11 in her career. She looked today as though singles is more her hobby. She and Hradecka are still alive in the doubles draw which will now capture all her attention.
The only real drama in this match was whether Hlavackova, nursing injuries to both legs, would win a game or even complete the match. Williams tried to expedite the process when she nearly decapitated Hlavackova with a kick serve at 3-0 in the first set. If it wasn’t the Williams serve, then her returns were giving Hlavackova whiplash, as they screamed by her for clean winners (31 total for the match). Other than a few botched attempts at net (three of eight), Williams gave no quarter, limiting herself to just seven unforced errors.
In between the first and second sets, several members of the U.S. armed forces seated in Ashe were introduced and drew a rousing round of applause from the rest of the crowd. It was probably the only chance they had to do so during the match. Throughout the ovation, Serena sat statue still in her chair, eyes closed, completely focused. She’s all business, with three straight love sets and counting.
With the win, Williams breaks a tie with her sister, Venus, and moves into a tie with Lindsay Davenport for fourth all-time (Open Era) in U.S. Open singles wins (62). She can take sole possession with a victory over Ana Ivanovic in the quarterfinals, one round later than the pair met last year. Williams won that match and two previous between the two, all without dropping a set.
The opening line has Williams a four touchdown favorite.