NEW YORK — From an ace on the first point to a stinging return on the last, Serena Williams was close to perfect in the U.S. Open quarterfinals.
The score said it all Tuesday night: 6-0, 6-0.
Yes, Williams is looking better and better with each match at the year’s last Grand Slam tournament. With two more wins — no matter the exact scores — she’ll earn a fifth title at Flushing Meadows and 17th major championship overall.
The No. 1-ranked and top-seeded Williams shut out 18th-seeded Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain, the first “double bagel” in a quarterfinal at Flushing Meadows since 1989, when 18-time major title winner Martina Navratilova did it to Manuela Maleeva.
“When you play against Serena,” Suarez Navarro said, “you know these things can happen.”
Williams won 53 out of 71 points. The first set took all of 19 minutes.
Williams was asked whether she’d describe her performance as close to flawless.
“Of course not,” the defending champion said with a laugh. “I played good, though. I played really good. I was just more focused than anything. You know, I like to believe there is room for improvement.”
That might be bad news for her opponent in Friday’s semifinals, 2011 French Open champion Li Na of China.
Going back to the start of Wimbledon last year, the 31-year-old Williams is 96-5 with 13 trophies, including from three of the past five Grand Slam tournaments.
“She’s the best player in the sport,” Suarez Navarro said. “When you look at the draw, you don’t want to see Serena there.”
Defending men’s champion Andy Murray encountered some problems in a 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 win over 65th-ranked Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan in the fourth round.
Ahead 5-3 in the opening tiebreaker, Murray dropped four points in a row. Serving for the second set at 5-1, Murray hit a volley-lob that Istomin tracked down and, back to the net, sent back with a between-the-legs shot. What should have been an easy tap-in winner became a flubbed volley, and Murray put his hand to his face. But he wound up taking that game, and was on his way to improving to 30-2 over his past five Grand Slam tournaments.
Next for Murray is a quarterfinal against No. 9 Stanislas Wawrinka. A day after his Swiss Davis Cup teammate and friend, Roger Federer, lost, Wawrinka reached the round of eight at the U.S. Open for the second time by beating No. 5 Tomas Berdych, the 2010 Wimbledon runner-up, 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 (6), 6-2 .
Top-seeded Novak Djokovic eliminated 43rd-ranked Marcel Granollers, 6-3, 6-0, 6-0, in 79 minutes.
Earlier Tuesday, the fifth-seeded Li gott past 24th-seeded Ekaterina Makarova of Russia, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-2.