Serena Williams into US Open final with win over Makarova

By Piers NewberyBBC Sport at Flushing Meadows
Serena Williams
Williams had not gone past the fourth round in Grand Slams this year until New York
US Open, Flushing Meadows, New York
Dates: 25 August-8 September Coverage: Live text and radio commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, online, tablets, mobiles and BBC Sport app.

Serena Williams thrashed Russia's Ekaterina Makarova to remain on course for a third successive US Open title.

The 32-year-old world number one powered to a 6-1 6-3 victory in exactly an hour as she closes in on a sixth title in New York.

Williams, seeking to win her 18th Grand Slam title, will play Danish 10th seed Caroline Wozniacki in Sunday's final.

"I'm so happy - you have no idea what it means to me," said the American. "I didn't know I would be here today."

Her victory was in marked contrast to that of Wozniacki, who was leading a much closer contest in the first semi-final when China's Peng Shuai retired in the heat.

Serena Williams's route to the final
First round: beat Taylor Townsend (USA) 6-3 6-1
Second round: beat Vania King (USA) 6-1 6-0
Third round: beat Varvara Lepchenko (USA) 6-3 6-3
Fourth round: beat Kaia Kanepi (Est) 6-3 6-3
Quarter-finals: beat Flavia Pennetta (Ita x11) 6-3 6-2
Semi-finals: beat Ekaterina Makarova (Rus x17) 6-1 6-3

Williams had no such problems and, after failing to make it past the fourth round of a Grand Slam this year before arriving in New York, she has looked a class apart at Flushing Meadows.

She spent just five and a half hours reaching the semi-finals without dropping a set and needed only 26 minutes to take the first against Makarova.

The Russian, 26, was playing in her first Grand Slam semi-final and carried the confidence boost of having knocked the Williams sisters out of the doubles, alongside Elena Vesnina, earlier this week.

Serena Williams's Grand Slam titles
Australian Open (5): 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2010
French Open (2): 2002 and 2013
Wimbledon (5): 2002, 2003, 2009, 2010 and 2012
US Open (5): 1999, 2002, 2008, 2012 and 2013

But with Williams in rampant form, it counted for about as much as her 2012 Australian Open win over the American.

A brilliant forehand earned Williams the first break points in game four and after Makarova went long on the second, the match slipped away from the Russian very quickly.

Four errors handed over a break at the start of the second set, and when the American out-volleyed the doubles expert on her way to moving 4-0 in front, it was clear that nothing was going to derail Williams, even though Makarova managed to hold twice for 5-2.

There were signs of tension when she failed to serve out the match from 30-0, and coach Patrick Mouratoglou appeared nervous in the stands, but, despite closing the gap to 5-3, Makarova could not keep the pressure on.

Facing her 10th break point of the match after 60 minutes she sent a backhand into the tramlines, and a thrilled Williams celebrated moving to within one win of an 18th Grand Slam title.

Open Era Grand Slam singles title leaders
1: Steffi Graf - 22
2=: Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova - 18
4: Serena Williams - 17
5: Margaret Court - 11

"There's always sceptics," she said of those who had began to doubt her after another early Grand Slam exit at Wimbledon.

"I worked really hard for Wimbledon, and I was really disappointed and sad and shocked that I wasn't able to win.

"I worked hours, more than I worked before. Maybe it's just paying off now."