The final everyone wants to see at this year's ASB Classic is just two matches away from becoming a reality.
Venus Williams defeated Garbine Muguruza 6-3 6-3 tonight to set up an all American clash against Jamie Hampton tomorrow.
Tournament organisers will no doubt be privately hoping that the seven-time Grand Slam winner wins that match and Ana Ivanovic triumphs over Kirsten Flipkens.
On the evidence of Williams' performance against the Spaniard, she looks like keeping her end of the bargain. Muguruza is the best player she's been up against this week and it was her most convincing win.
"It was my cleanest match of the week and that's what I'm looking for," Williams said.
"To try to play cleaner and improve my game tremendously. So I'm excited to be in the semifinal.
"A lot of it is getting comfortable on the court and executing shots.
"It's so much different to practice, just mentally to be able to take your time out there, the match play for me right now is really crucial."
In her penultimate tournament of 2013 Williams made it to the semifinals in Tokyo, beating Victoria Azarenka along the way. Although there has been the off season between then and now, Williams feels she's carrying the momentum from last year.
"In a lot of ways I have picked up from where I left off," she said.
"I had a great tournament there and I've had almost three months off.
"I'd like to think I'm playing a little better than Tokyo, I definitely think I'm serving with more consistency and moving better, I just have to keep that up."
At one point Williams served a ball at 202kph. She is still the biggest server in the women's game, with only her sister, Serena, rivalling her. She holds the world record, with a serve of 209kph, which she posted last year.
"When I serve, I'm not trying to serve hard, it just comes hard," she said.
"On the ones where I'm serving about 200kph, they are the ones where I'm trying to bring the heat.
"Throughout the match I'm trying to think more about placement and those kinds of things.
"With my height and leverage, I get the natural power, but when it's above 200kph I'm trying to hit it hard."
Hampton needed three sets to beat compatriot Lauren Davis 6-2 4-6 6-4 yesterday. She finished her match before Muguruza and Williams had started theirs.
She was asked who she'd most like to play tonight and eventually admitted she'd prefer to play Williams.
"If I play Venus, it's a great opportunity for me," she said.
"She has so much experience. I have nothing but respect for her. I would love to have the opportunity to play her.
"Yeah. I would like to play Venus."
- Fairfax Media
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