- The Washington Times - Friday, September 5, 2008

From combined dispatches

NEW YORK | If the U.S. Open women’s semifinalists look across the hallway while stepping out of the locker room at Arthur Ashe Stadium, they can catch a glimpse of a larger-than-life photo of Serena Williams in a pink top and headband, smiling a wide smile.

Underneath, there’s a plaque noting that Williams was the 1999 and 2002 champion at Flushing Meadows.

A tad intimidating for the three other women left in tournament?

That picture is, after all, a reminder that Williams not only has won the U.S. Open but a total of eight Grand Slam singles titles. The other semifinalists - Jelena Jankovic, Elena Dementieva and Dinara Safina - never have won one.

“They know Serena has those big moments, that she’s won those championships and knows what it takes,” said 1979 and 1981 U.S. Open champion Tracy Austin, who is an analyst on USA Network. “They haven’t done that yet.”

Williams is 11-2 in major semifinals; Jankovic, Dementieva and Safina are a combined 3-7.

Williams has spent 57 weeks ranked No. 1, a perch she could reclaim by winning the U.S. Open. Jankovic, Dementieva and Safina also have a chance to lead the rankings at tournament’s end. But so far, that trio can boast of a collective one week at No. 1 - by Jankovic last month.

Heading into Friday’s semifinals - in which the fourth-seeded Williams plays No. 6 Safina, and No. 2 Jankovic plays No. 5 Dementieva - Williams has been the most dominant here, losing only 26 games through five matches. She dropped 12 of those in the quarterfinals, when she beat older sister Venus 7-6 (6), 7-6 (7) on Wednesday night.

“I mean, I feel like I should have a trophy now,” Serena said after beating the only other Grand Slam title winner remaining in the field. “Unfortunately I don’t, and I’ve got to go to the next round.”

Davis Cup team set

As well as Mardy Fish fared at the U.S. Open, reaching the quarterfinals and stealing a set from No. 1 Rafael Nadal at that stage, U.S. Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe knew he was going to round up the usual crew for this month’s semifinal against Spain.

Andy Roddick, James Blake and the doubles pair of twins Bob and Mike Bryan will comprise the U.S. team for a record-extending 11th consecutive Davis Cup contest. No other foursome has been chosen more than three times in a row to represent the country.

“I feel like this is deja vu,” McEnroe said at the U.S. Open, where he’s serving as Roddick’s coach. “No surprise - same four guys.”

They are the players who McEnroe led to the last Davis Cup championship.

Spain has until next week to announce its roster, which is expected to be led by four-time French Open champion Nadal. The matches will be played on clay at Madrid in a 21,000-seat bullring.

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