NEW YORK — It took Serena Williams 19 minutes to win the first set of her U.S. Open quarterfinal match against 18th-seeded Carla Suarez Navarro on the Spaniard’s 25th birthday.
The second set wasn’t much better for Suarez Navarro, who received an occasional gifted point but not too many as Williams moved into the semifinals with a 6-0, 6-0 win in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Tuesday night. The match lasted 52 minutes.
In a semifinal scheduled for Friday, Williams will face fifth-seeded Li Na, who became the first Chinese player to make the Open semifinals. Her win was considerably more difficult, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-2 over 24th-seeded Russian Ekaterina Makarova.
“Give her a game, it’s her birthday,” a fan shouted when Williams was ahead 6-0, 1-0, but Williams wasn’t much in the giving mood.
It was only the second time in tennis’ Open era (since 1968) that a woman won a U.S. Open quarterfinal without losing a game. The last time it happened was in 1989, Martina Navratilova over Manuela Maleeva.
Almost as efficient Tuesday was the top-seeded man, Novak Djokovic.
Other men have needed more than 41/2 hours to win in the fourth round (Richard Gasquet on Monday) or just about four hours (Mikhail Youzhny on Tuesday).
Djokovic needed only 79 minutes to beat unseeded Spaniard Marcel Granollers, 6-3, 6-0, 6-0, and called his play in the final two sets “flawless”.
Much more competitive were two other men’s fourth-round matches, with defending champion Andy Murray and ninth-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka requiring four sets to advance.
Murray recovered from a shaky first set to take out unseeded Denis Istomin, 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-4, 6-4. Wawrinka was a 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 (6), 6-2 winner over fifth-seeded Tomas Berdych.
Few would have predicted Wawrinka would be the last Swiss standing but there he is, into the quarterfinals while five-time U.S. Open champion Roger Federer has been gone since Monday, having lost in the fourth round.
Next for Wawrinka will be the third-seeded Murray.
Next for Djokovic will be Youzhny, a 31-year-old Russian who was severely tested before eliminating unseeded Lleyton Hewitt, the 2001 champion here, 6-3, 3-6, 6-7 (3), 6-4, 7-5. That match was timed at 3 hours 58 minutes.
Williams didn’t call her play “flawless,” but she couldn’t identify much to improve on other than her serve.
“I played good. I played really good,” Williams said. “I think it was very difficult to hit a big serve today because of the wind but I didn’t get my serve up as much as I wanted. I’m not here to say what I did wrong, though. I like to think there is room for improvement.”
Djokovic, 26, said the way he played the final 15 games against Granollers was “a great joy. It’s a fantastic feeling when you’re playing this well. You love spending time on the court and experiencing such a great zone where you are at that moment.”
Granollers, ranked 43rd in the world, said there was “nothing” he could do. Djokovic won 32 of 38 points when he got his first serve in, and 28 of 30 points at the net.
“I have worked on that a lot,” he said of his volleys. “It’s obvious my game is based on the baseline. But I have many opportunities to come to the net and finish out points earlier. That’s one of the things on the practice agenda. We are working on the serve, getting more precise and efficient and using opportunities to just make a winner by coming to the net.”
Youzhny didn’t seem to have high expectations going against Djokovic. “It will really be a tough match for me,” he said. “First I need to recover after this match and try to be ready, 100%. It will be really tough to beat him. But you never know.”
Earlier, in a fourth-round match postponed Monday because of rain, second-seeded Victoria Azarenka defeated 13th-seeded Ana Ivanovic, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.