LONDON: Serena Williams powered into her 12th Wimbledon quarter-final as the defending champion celebrated American Independence Day with a 7-5, 6-0 victory over Russian 13th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova on Monday.
World number one Williams hit 43 winners and served 14 aces as she won the last nine games on Centre Court to remain on course for a record-equalling 22nd major title and a seventh Wimbledon crown.
The 34-year-old, an eight-time Wimbledon finalist, will play Russian 21st seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova for a place in the semi-finals.
Williams leads their career series 5-0.
Williams’ 301st Grand Slam match victory moved her within five of Open era record holder Martina Navratilova.
“She has played really well against me in the past and she beat me earlier this year so I know that I had to play really well to win this,” Williams said.
“It was really tricky out there because even though it wasn’t raining hard, it was dewy on the grass and you can fall really easy.”
Due to bad weather, Williams will have played three days in a row by the time she finishes Tuesday’s quarter-final, but she is unconcerned about the demanding schedule.
“Usually in order to win a tournament, you have to play quarters, semis, final back to back. I thought, ‘Serena, you’ve done this many times’, so for me it’s an easy transition,” she said.
Beaten in the Australian and French Open finals this year, Serena’s attempt to equal Steffi Graf’s Open era record of 22 Grand Slam titles seems back on track on the lawns of the All England Club.
She made a powerful start, unloading four successive aces to take one game before breaking for a 3-1 lead.
Kuznetsova had beaten her close friend three times, including in Miami this year, and she hit straight back with a break of her own in the next game.
Matching Serena blow for blow, the Russian had a chance to serve for the set after breaking when the top seed was left flat on her backside.
But Williams quickly composed herself following that embarrassing stumble and broke back before a delay for the roof to be closed as light rain fell.
Once play resumed in indoor conditions suiting her muscular game, Serena made the most of her escape and broke to seal the first set.
Kuznetsova has a tattoo on her arm reading ‘pain doesn’t kill me, I kill pain’, but the Russian’s threshold for enduring Serena’s brand of torturous power was reaching breaking point.
A pair of breaks in the first four games of the second set shattered her morale as Williams cantered to the finish line.