New York: The US Open quarter-finals kick off on Tuesday, with Serena Williams saying she's just getting warmed up — an ominous assessment for the other seven women with eyes on the prize.
"She's coming, she hasn't quite come out yet, though," the world number one said of the dominating "Serena" who went missing in action after Wimbledon, in large part because of a sore right shoulder. That seems astonishing, since Williams has reached the last eight without dropping a set, or indeed even dropping her serve.
"I just feel like I'm going out there doing what I need to do," she said. "I'm not overplaying, I'm not underplaying; I'm just trying to play my way into this tournament."
She has played her way into a quarter-final against fifth-seeded Romanian Simona Halep, who has won just one of their eight career matches. But Williams said that record wasn't necessarily a guide to the challenge Halep would pose. "To me it doesn't really matter who I play because I have to expect they're going to play the match of their life," she said. "That's how I go into these matches now."
They'll headline women's action on Wednesday, when Ana Konjuh and Karolina Pliskova meet in a battle of first-time Grand Slam quarter-finalists. Konjuh, an 18-year-old ranked 92nd in the world, shocked fourth-ranked Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4, 6-4 to reach the last eight.
She avenged a second-round loss at Wimbledon in which she held three match points against the Pole. Tenth seeded Pliskova defeated sixth-seeded Venus Williams 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/3). On Tuesday, world number two Angelique Kerber — who toppled Williams in the Australian Open final and who has a chance to end the American's reign atop the world rankings here — takes on Roberta Vinci.
The seventh-seeded Italian stunned Williams in the semi-finals last year, before falling to compatriot Flavia Pennetta in the final.
Tuesday's other quarter-final sees Caroline Wozniacki, derailed this year by an ankle injury that sent her career into a tailspin, taking on Latvian Anastasija Sevastova, back and on the best Grand Slam run of her career after quitting the sport three years ago.
Wozniacki, a former world number one, is back in the last eight of a Slam for the first time since her second runner-up finish in New York in 2014. She won't be taking Sevastova lightly, despite the fact that the Latvian's previous best run in a major was to the fourth round of the 2011 Australian Open. "She's a tough player," Wozniacki said. "She has a lot of grit and good hands. It's not going to be an easy one, but I'm excited just to have another shot."