NEW YORK—How can tennis fans keep life interesting when Serena Williams plays? We might want to start ranking her blowouts. The world No. 1 has won 22 bagel sets this season, and the majority of the matches she plays aren’t even remotely competitive. That’s not supposed to be the case, even for No. 1s, in the quarterfinals of Grand Slams, but it was tonight when Serena steamrolled Carla Suarez Navarro, 6-0, 6-0, in 52 minutes. It was a bitter birthday present for the Spanish woman, who turned 25 on Tuesday, but it did come with a silver lining: The $325,000 check she’ll pick up for making it this far at the Open.
In the history of Serena routs, this one reminded me of her 0 and 1 win over Sara Errani in the French Open semifinals in the spring. Somehow, despite its utter, humiliating one-sidedness, that match was actually more entertaining than this one. Not only did Suarez Navarro struggle for points—she won just 18, to Serena’s 53—she struggled to return balls that were hit directly at her. Even a routine Williams ground stroke, hit safely down the middle of the court, was too much for Suarez Navarro. Her one-handed backhand is normally a beautiful, flowing shot, but it was completely handcuffed tonight. Williams hit 20 winners against nine errors, made 74 percent of first serves, and won six of seven break points. Suarez Navarro won just 35 percent of her first serve points (I won't bother mentioning her percentage on second balls), and while she committed only 12 errors, that's only more proof of Serena's dominance. Suarez Navarro wasn't even given a chance to make her own mistakes.
Some in the crowd urged Serena to give the birthday girl a game, but that wasn’t happening. Serena even did a little fist-pump at 6-0, 4-0 (I’d like to think it was just a reflex, and that she didn’t really mean it). Tomorrow Serena will play doubles with her sister, Venus, and that's probably a good thing, because she might need the practice. Next up in singles is Li Na. We probably won’t have to rank that one among Serena’s blowouts. She has, after all, lost to Li before—once, in nine matches, in 2008. It's something.
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