Time to acknowledge it's title or nothing for Serena Williams

Serena Williams rolls into US Open semifinals

Serena Williams celebrates victory following her women's singles quarterfinal match at the 2018 US Open on September 4, 2018 in Flushing, N.Y.

After Pliskova went up 40-0 in the 10th game only for Williams to roar back to win and take the first set, the American showed no signs of slowing.

The semi-final, which starts at starts 0:00 BST on Friday, is Sevastova's first in a Grand Slam semi-final and comes after her win over defending champion Sloane Stephens in the quarter-finals.

Serena Williams says she still has a "really long way to go" to win a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam singles title at the US Open.

And after claiming the final two games in the first, she continued in a similar vein in the second, breaking Pliskova to 0 in the second game and moving 4-0 up.

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She avenged a semi-final loss to Pliskova in the 2016 US Open and notched her first win over a top-10 player since she returned in March after the birth of daughter Olympia in September of previous year.

"I just wanted to play better", Williams said of her mindset as she trailed 3-1 in the first. "I'm just on my way (back) on the tour and doing the best I can".

But even when a sprint to the net ended in a beauty of a drop shot that brought her coach, Mouratoglou, to his feet, Williams was subdued in her reactions. "I love this game so maybe that's why", said Williams, who was beaten by Pliskova in the 2016 semi-finals.

Her sluggish start against Pliskova came in the same 90-degree heat and 50-per cent humidity that hampered John Isner in his quarterfinal loss to Juan Martin del Potro on Tuesday afternoon, and Roger Federer in his fourth-round exit against John Millman a night earlier and prompted the tournament to suspend play in junior matches for a few hours. "Unfortunate that I played first match at 12 o'clock and it was so extremely hot, but it was hot for both of us".

The 36-year-old, though, quickly found her groove.

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"I could have s*** the bed [lost] in the first round, and that would have been really bad", said Stephens, who is projected to drop five spots to eighth in the world rankings.

"I want to just be able to get past the semis here", Williams said. "I think she lost also her nerves a little bit, it's normal". Then, down 3-1, she faced three break points; if Pliskova won any, she would have led 4-1.

At this level, at this stage of the tournament, Sevastova is going to have her work cut out for her. "I have no words", Serena admitted in the post-match on-court interview. "Not much that I could do on the break points". Perhaps no other player has been as dominant on the surface, and Williams' powerful serves are a punishing weapon on the outdoor hard courts of Flushing Meadows.

Osaka is a fearless competitor who is capable of hitting through anyone on her day, but the Keys serve may just be the difference in this one.

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