TORONTO: World number one Serena Williams continued her march towards her fourth Toronto title with a 6-4, 6-3 dismantling of Italy’s Roberta Vinci in the quarter-finals of the WTA Rogers Cup.
The 33-year-old Williams extended her Toronto match win streak to 14, powering her way past Vinci by blasting 12 aces in the 78-minute centre court match.
“Overall it was well fought,” Williams said. “I definitely feel it’s another step in the right direction.
“I don’t feel like I’m at my best or anywhere near it, but it’s the right direction and I want to keep going.”
She moves on to face 18-year-old Belinda Bencic in the semi-finals at the hardcourt warm-up event for the US Open, the year’s final Grand Slam tournament that begins August 31.
Williams could win her fifth Grand Slam title in a row and complete a calendar year Grand Slam by defending her US Open crown. That would also give her 22 Grand Slam singles titles, matching Steffi Graf for the most in the Open era.
Williams won in Toronto in her last two appearances in 2011 and 2013. Her first title here came in 2001.
She pulled out of the Stanford tournament last week with an elbow injury but says it is no longer a problem.
“I had a day off and it really helped. The last couple of matches it was OK,” she said.
Williams won 76 percent of her first serve points and saved five of six break points on her serve.
Vinci, who reached the final of the Nurnberg tournament earlier this year, made four double faults and won just 40 percent of her second serve points. The world number 53 lost in the first round at Wimbledon and the French Open this year.
Williams next plays Swiss Bencic who beat fifth seeded Ana Ivanovic in straight sets 6-4, 6-2 in a night match.
Romanian second seed Simona Halep advanced to the semi-finals by roaring back to defeat Polish sixth seed Agnieszka Radwanska 0-6, 6-3, 6-1.
Halep next will face Italy’s Sara Errani, who defeated Ukraine qualifier Lesia Tsurenko 6-4, 6-4 in another semi-final.
Radwanska won the first seven games of the match and looked in control.
But Halep battled to 3-3 in the second set and then seized command, winning eight games in a row to reach the brink of victory.
Radwanska held at love in the penultimate game but Halep matched her in the concluder to claim her 300th career singles victory after one hour and 40 minutes on the court.
“It was a tough match,” Halep said. “She played an amazing first set. I couldn’t move my legs first set. I made many mistakes,” she said.
“But I kept my concentration and changed a few things and was able to come back.”