Serena’s been talking all year now about how much she wants to up her ranking, and how much she wants to be feared (and respected) again.
She’s moving closer toward that goal. Even though her sister blew 10 set points last night, Serena showed a focused intesnity that we haven’t seen since the days she dominated the tour. Before the tournament began, we wondered if she even had any good tennis left in her. Her determination has been back for the better part of the year, but she just wasn’t winning, and it was hard to tell why. In the past if she wanted to win, like at the 2007 Australian Open, she won.
The key last night, she said, was adjusting her attitude.
"I definitely managed my emotions better," she said last night. "That was one thing I really wanted to focus on going into this match, was staying positive. I felt like I got really negative at Wimbledon, and lost any chance I might have had. So I thought, you know, when she was up, I just relaxed. When I was up, I was still relaxed."
Sometimes it’s hard to judge Serena since the competition on the women’s tour is so depleted, but there’s no question (and this is something Venus said herself) there is no other player who would have beaten her big sister last night.
Serena is in the semifinals at the U.S. Open for the first time since 2002, and oddly, this has a very similar feel to last year’s quarters against Justine Henin. After Henin won that bruising match, you had the feeling that no one would be able to stop her. Not after beating Serena.
Well, I don’t know how Serena can possibly lose this tournament now. Not after beating Venus the way she did. Venus Williams said she had never played in a match like that before; Serena said it was the second best match she ever played against her sister.
And in case you forgot, she is there to remind you that she’s back.
"Believe me," she said, "I’m going to be No. 1 sooner or later."