NEW YORK — It didn’t take long for Serena Williams to show her fourth-round opponent at the U.S. Open where things were headed.
“The first point of the whole match," 82nd-ranked Andrea Hlavackova explained, “when I served, and she returned, like, a 100 mph forehand return, I was like, ‘OK, I know who I’m playing. You don’t have to prove it to me. I know.’ "
Monday’s match was less than 15 seconds old. It might as well have been over.
Dominant from the moment she ripped that return of an 88 mph second serve, forcing Hlavackova into an out-of-control backhand that sailed well long, to the moment she powered a 116 mph service winner on the last point, Williams extended her 2½-month stretch of excellence with a 6-0, 6-0 victory to get to the quarterfinals at Flushing Meadows.
Those two big zeros pretty much tell the story; it’s the fifth time in her career Williams won with what’s commonly called a “double bagel." Some other impressive numbers: Williams won 60 of 89 points, built a 31-9 edge in winners and improved to 23-1 since losing in the first round of the French Open. That run includes singles and doubles titles at both Wimbledon and the London Olympics.
Hlavackova knows this act all too well: She and Lucie Hradecka were the doubles runners-up at both of those events. Not that those 2-on-2 encounters helped prepare for the 1-on-1 match in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Monday.
“Singles is completely different," said Hlavackova, who chose the phrase “What can you do"? more than once when analyzing what it’s like to face 14-time major champion Williams.
“My coach warned me to not go on the court and play for a score," Hlavackova said, by which she meant just trying to keep it as close as possible. “I was in the match. I was trying to figure out how to win. And when it was, like, 6-love, 4-love, 30-love, I was thinking, ‘Well, I’m not playing for a score, but one game wouldn’t hurt.’ "
Next for the fourth-seeded Williams, who won the U.S. Open in 1999, 2002 and 2008, is a match against former No. 1 Ana Ivanovic, who reached a Grand Slam quarterfinal for the first time since winning the 2008 French Open by defeating 55th-ranked Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria 6-0, 6-4.
No. 1-seeded Roger Federer, owner of a record 17 Grand Slam titles, including five at the U.S. Open, got some extra rest Monday, because his fourth-round opponent, 23rd-seeded Mardy Fish of the United States, withdrew hours before their scheduled match for precautionary reasons, citing medical advice.
The man Federer beat in July’s Wimbledon final and lost to in August’s Olympic final, Andy Murray, muted 15th-seeded Milos Raonic’s big serve and won 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 Monday night to reach an eighth consecutive major quarterfinal.
“Today was by far my best match of the tournament," Murray concluded.
No. 3 Murray will play No. 12 Marin Cilic of Croatia, who put together a 7-5, 6-4, 6-0 victory over 50th-ranked Martin Klizan of Slovakia, the last left-hander and unseeded man remaining. Murray has won six of seven matches against Cilic over their careers, but the lone loss came at the U.S. Open in 2009.
Federer now faces No. 6 Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic, who eliminated No. 11 Nicolas Almagro of Spain 7-6 (4), 6-4, 6-1. Berdych stunned Federer in the 2010 Wimbledon quarterfinals on the way to reaching the final.