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 No. 1-seeded Williams shut out 18th-seeded
"When you play against Serena,"
Williams won 53 of 71 points and dominated pretty much every statistical category. The first set took all of 19 minutes. The second was slower, lasting 33 minutes, but no less lopsided.
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
Asked in an on-court interview if her game is peaking, Williams replied: "No. Not yet. I hope not. I'm just trying to do the best that I can."
Through five matches, Williams has dropped a total of 13 games so far. For comparison's sake, know this:
That victory, and her seeding, should have demonstrated that
But not on this evening. Not against Williams, who is 65-4 with eight titles in 2013.
Going back to the start of Wimbledon last year, the 31-year-old American is 96-5 with 13 trophies, including from three of the past five Grand Slam tournaments plus the London Olympics.
"The conditions were so tough, so it definitely was not her best tennis today," Williams said about
Tough conditions, huh? That swirling wind in
"I've been playing here for, like, 50 years," Williams said with a laugh. "I've kind of gotten used to the conditions. Even though it's difficult to play each year, I'm getting a little bit better with it."
When Williams did face a break point for the first time, 42 minutes and 11 games into the match, she came up with a big serve and raced forward for a simple putaway that she punctuated with a yell.
Moments later came a second break chance, but even with Williams stumbling to the court,
It was that kind of night.
"She's the best player in the sport,"
Before the match, picturing in her mind what it might be like to step out in the largest arena in Grand Slam tennis, under the lights at night, against Williams,
"I imagined a movie in which I won. I also imagined a movie in which I played well, but she ended up winning," she said. "I was dreaming so many things."
After their quick-as-can-be match, defending men's champion
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 last 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,
In the afternoon, top-seeded
Djokovic, who won the 2011 U.S. Open and lost in last year's final to Murray, reached his 18th consecutive major quarterfinal.
Now comes a match against 21st-seeded Mikhail Youzhny, who was two points from defeat but came back to edge two-time major champion Lleyton Hewitt 6-3, 3-6, 6-7 (3), 6-4, 7-5.
All eight men's quarterfinalists are from
Earlier Tuesday, the fifth-seeded Li needed nearly 2½ hours to get past 24th-seeded
On three occasions, Li went up a break in the second set, nearing eventual victory each time, but could not finish things. She then was up 3-0 in the tiebreaker before faltering. Still, she recovered well and closed the match by taking the last four games, then joked that she would grab a bag of chips and enjoy watching Williams against
Regardless of who she'd face next, Li made the point that what would be important is to focus on herself.
"I mean, if you only think about what (your) opponent (is) doing, of course you already lose the match before you come to the court," Li said. "For tennis you have to figure out what you have to do on the court, what you should do."
Li has only won one of nine career matches against Williams heading into Friday.
"Tough, tough opponent," Li said. "But is (a) good challenge to play against her."
The quarterfinals on the other half of the draw are Wednesday: second-seeded Victoria Azarenka of
While the other women in that section all advanced Monday, Azarenka's fourth-round match against 2008 French Open champion
"I think," two-time Australian Open champion Azarenka said, "we're just great returners."
Lamented Ivanovic: "I felt like I could break her, but it was very frustrating that I was losing my serve constantly."