Serena breezes into final at Family Circle Cup

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CHARLESTON, S.C. — Serena Williams even impressed herself with her powerful showing at the Family Circle Cup on Saturday.

Serena Williams celebrates after winning a point against Samantha Stosur during their semifinal match at the Family Circle Cup. Williams won 6-1, 6-1 on Saturday.   MIC SMITH/ASSOCIATED PRESS
MIC SMITH/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Serena Williams celebrates after winning a point against Samantha Stosur during their semifinal match at the Family Circle Cup. Williams won 6-1, 6-1 on Saturday.

Williams needed less than an hour to dispatch second-seeded Samantha Stosur, 6-1, 6-1 and advance to the clay-court final.

“You know, I think it was just one of those days that I could have done anything against anybody,” Williams said.

There aren’t many people in the world who could’ve withstood Williams’ performance at the Family Circle Tennis Center. The 10th-ranked player was on her game from the start, winning the match’s first eight points and rarely letting Stosur catch a breath.

Today, Williams will face Lucie Safarova, a 6-0, 6-0 winner over Polona Hercog, for the championship.

Stosur held serve to cut Williams’ lead to 2-1, then lost the next nine games. Stosur, who defeated Williams to win the U.S. Open title last September, got a loud cheer from the crowd when she prevented Williams from shutting her out in the second set.

Williams hit a forehand winner to end the match moments later, and eliminated Stosur from a tournament for the second straight week. Williams beat Stosur 7-5, 6-3 last week at the Sony Ericsson Open, serving 20 aces in the hard-court win.

Williams only had seven aces in this one, but was in command of nearly every shot she hit.

“I have to say this is probably the best match I’ve played in my career, either in a long time or it’s up there in the top five,” Williams said.

The hole in Williams’ Hall-of-Fame resume is clearly on clay. She owns 13 Grand Slam titles, but just one coming at the French Open.

Williams has gotten only one day’s practice on clay since the Sony Ericsson event ended.

DAVIS CUP: In Roquebrune, France, Bob and Mike Bryan defeated Julien Benneteau and Michael Llodra 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (4) to give the United States a 2-1 lead over France in their Davis Cup quarterfinal.

The Bryans, the top-ranked doubles team, have not lost a Davis Cup match since 2008. They were rarely troubled against a French pair that struggled to find any rhythm on the clay at the Monte Carlo Country Club.

“We were ready for a dogfight,” Bob Bryan said. “I thought we did a great job of not letting the crowd get too loud.”

Today, No. 11 John Isner faced sixth-ranked Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in singles. Teenager Ryan Harrison, ranked 66th will play No. 13 Gilles Simon.

“Jo is capable of beating him,” France captain Guy Forget said. “We’re better ranked than them, so we have to go out and win.”

Tsonga looked shaky at times when he beat the inexperienced Harrison in four sets on Friday. Isner’s huge serve and dominant forehand present a much bigger threat than Harrison’s shot-making.

“He wanted to play on clay, now we must go and get the win. We all have our duties and responsibilities,” Forget said. “It’s a heavyweight contest between two big hitters.”

On Saturday, the French pair lost their serve at the start of the first and second set. Although they showed more fight in the third set, the Bryans did not have to face a single break point.

The United States trailed 2-1 in the tiebreaker, but quickly rallied for a 5-2.

Llodra’s long forehand offered match point, which the Americans converted when Benneteau’s backhand down the line sailed out.

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