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Serena Williams remains favorite as final weekend begins

Despite her struggles in the three previous Grand Slams of 2014, Serena Williams remains the Queen of Queens and the U.S. Open is hers to lose.

Serena Williams Serena Williams has yet to lose a set in the 2014 U.S. Open.
Credit: Getty Images

Despite her struggles in the three previous Grand Slams of 2014, Serena Williams remains the Queen of Queens and the U.S. Open is hers to lose.

The No. 1 seed and two-time defending champion will take a 19-match winning streak in Flushing Meadows into Friday's semifinal meeting with No. 17 Ekaterina Makarova of Russia.

Fan favorite Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, the highest remaining seed after Williams at No. 10, meets unseeded Peng Shuai of China in the other semifinal. Wozniacki and Peng begin at 1:45 p.m. with Williams-Makarova to follow.

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"For me it's just about every day is a new day," Williams said after dispatching Flavia Pennetta, 6-3, 6-2, Wednesday night in the quarterfinals. "You never know. Especially for me this year, you never know what can happen. I take everything very seriously as it comes."

The 32-year-old Williams hasn't been past the fourth round of a major this year, but she remains on track to capture her 18th career Grand Slam title, which would tie her with legends Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova for fourth all-time among women.

Williams is 3-1 all-time against the left-hander Makarova, who got to the Final Four by taking out Canadian sensation Eugenie Bouchard in the fourth round and two-time finalist Victoria Azarenka in the quarters.

"Makarova moves well," Williams said. "She doesn't care who she plays, she gives 100 percent. Those types of players are often difficult to play because it makes them better. Like I say, she moves well. She has that serve that can hit — that can go out wide or you never know where it's going to go. She's has a great backhand and she's improved her forehand. It's going to be interesting for me to do the best that I can, because, you know, she has a lot of momentum going into this match as well."

Makarova lost to Serena here two years ago in the fourth round but owns a victory over Williams in the 2012 Australian Open.

"Well, she's a great and tough player, yeah?" Makarova said of Williams. "But once I beat her already, so I have a great memory. I have a great feeling of that match."

Wozniacki, a U.S. Open finalist in 2009, remains a huge fan favorite because of her sunny personality, which was tested earlier this year when golfer Rory McIlroy broke off their engagement.

Since the breakup, the Dane is 24-6 (an 80 percent winning clip), so maybe she's better off without him.

Wozniacki doesn't go into detail on the situation, but she is riding high after knocking off No. 5 Maria Sharapova in three sets in the fourth round and then clobbering No. 13 Sara Errani, 6-0, 6-1 in the quarterfinals.

She will be tested from the backcourt by the steady Peng, a 28-year-old who hits with two hands from both sides and is enjoying a breakthrough here after taking out No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska, No. 14 Lucie Safarova and 17-year-old sensation Belinda Bencic.

"She's been playing well," Wozniacki, still seeking her first career Grand Slam title, said of Peng, who is through to the semis of a major for the first time. "She's playing aggressively. She she's strong from both sides. She's been serving well. It's going to be a difficult match. ... It's going to be a hard one, but, again, it's going to fun."

Said Peng: "I think everybody want to do their best in the Grand Slam. ... So now I am in the semis, I keep going dream."

Follow Adam Zagoria on Twitter @AdamZagoria for updates throughout the U.S. Open.

 
 
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