By Larry Fine
NEW YORK (Reuters) - World number one Serena Williams took no chances with the searing heat on Arthur Ashe Stadium court by racing to a 6-1 6-3 rout of Ekaterina Makarova to reach the U.S. Open women's final on Friday.
Williams, winner of the last two U.S. Opens, came out firing, striking the ball with ferocious force and dazzling accuracy and needed only 60 minutes to advance against the 17th seeded Russian.
The top seed's opponent in Sunday's final will be 10th-seeded former world number one Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, who advanced in abrupt fashion when China's Peng Shuai was forced to retire due to heat illness trailing 7-6(1) 4-3 after two hours four minutes on the court.
Williams, who failed to reach the quarter-finals in any of the year's previous three slams, is aiming for her sixth U.S. title and an 18th slam singles crown that would tie her with Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova for fourth on the all-time list.
"It feels so good. I am so happy, you have no idea," Williams, 32, told the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd after reaching the final.
Williams won 58 points to 33 for left-hander Makarova, who was playing in her first grand slam singles semi-final and had no answers for the brute power of the winner.
Makarova held her first serve in the opening set and lost the next nine games before holding serve to trail 1-4 in the second set.
With Williams serving for the match at 5-2, the Russian broke serve, but the top seed returned the favor in the next game to clinch victory.
The hard-hitting American blasted 24 winners, including five aces, while Makarova managed six.
"I know she’s such an aggressive player," Williams said, "so I was just really focused.
"I’m just so happy to be here in New York, in another final. I'm really excited."
Williams said she and her friend Wozniacki had hoped for this match-up in the final before the tournament began.
"She obviously wants to win and go for her first grand slam, and I want to win and try to make a little history," said Williams.
"But regardless, I’m going to be happy with the outcome.
"She's such a great person and a great girl. We really looked forward to this since the draw came out, so we really hope we can have a lot of fun and enjoy it."
(Reporting by Larry Fine; Editing by Gene Cherry)