After sitting out at Indian Wells, Serena Williams was a little slow in proving she was back to form. She started slow against Yaroslava Shvedova, dropped a set to Caroline Garcia and it was tough to judge her performance against Coco Vandeweghe, who has a bright future but is ranked just 104th in the world.
But with Tuesday's comprehensive, dominant, 6-2, 6-2 quarterfinal win over world No. 9 Angelique Kerber, the six-time Sony Open winner is cruising again.
In a match that lasted just over an hour, Williams fired seven aces, controlled Kerber's serve with relative ease, crushed both forehand and backhand winners and rolled to the semifinals in impressive fashion.
The win sets up a Sony Open finals rematch with Maria Sharapova, as Sports Illustrated's tennis Twitter feed pointed out:
It was clear from the start that, while Kerber was playing aggressive and certainly wasn't prepared to back down to the world No. 1, she wasn't quite on the same level as Williams.
After the 17-time major winner held her opening serve, Kerber responded to even up the set, but it wasn't before Williams forced her into a break point and several deuces, proving that nothing was going to be easy for the challenger.
With her serve looking far more effective than it had in the opening rounds in Miami, Williams held her next two service games easily, along with a simple break in between, to push it to 4-1.
After a hold, Kerber had an opportunity to put things back on serve with her only break point of the set, but Williams quickly put an end to that, smashing an explosive forehand winner before going on to take the game.
Another fairly easy hold and break in the following two games put an end to the opening set at 6-2. In addition to her four aces (to Kerber's zero), Serena won 82 percent of her first serves and 51 percent of her return points, looking dominant in every facet of the game save for a few errors.
As Kleine Biere noted, the odds were certainly not in Kerber's favor at that point:
Give credit to the German for staying strong, though. She continued to move around the court well and held her opening two service games, but she was simply outmatched in Miami on Tuesday night, as Williams won the last four games of the set to close out the victory.
Sharapova, who made quick work of Petra Kvitova, now awaits in the semifinals.
Considering her massive lack of success against Williams (2-15 all time against the American with 14 consecutive victories), the veteran Russian will enter as a heavy underdog.
But if Williams continues to play like she did on Tuesday, it doesn't really matter who stands on the opposite side of the court—there's no one better when she's on top of her game.
And if you ask Angelique Kerber, she's unequivocally on top of her game.
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