KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) — Serena Williams abused her racket, scolded herself and even made angry faces at the sun.
In the end, as usual, she took out her frustration on the ball.
The seven-time Key Biscayne champion overcame her annoyance and shaky play Wednesday for her 700th career victory, beating Sabine Lisicki 7-6 (4), 1-6, 6-3 to reach the semifinals of the Miami Open.
Williams won despite an unreliable serve, a poor second set and 51 unforced errors. She looked flatfooted and listless at times, and seemed especially vexed when playing on the side looking into the sun.
“It’s always tough on that side,” she said. “You just don’t see. You just have to adjust.”
She did, earning her 16th consecutive victory on Key Biscayne, where she’s the two-time defending champion.
“I know today wasn’t my best day,” she said. “I just told myself, I’m not serving the way I normally serve and hitting the way I normally would hit, so at this point all I can do is just fight and try to give 200 percent instead of 100 percent.”
Two-time champion Andy Murray advanced to the men’s semifinals by rallying past unseeded Dominic Thiem 3-6, 6-4, 6-1. Murray’s opponent Friday will be the winner of the quarterfinal Wednesday night between No. 8 Tomas Berdych and unseeded Juan Monaco.
Williams improved her career record to 700-120, making her the eighth woman in the Open Era to reach the milestone. She was presented with a cake on the court, similar to the honor Murray received following his 500th victory Tuesday.
“I think my destiny was to play tennis,” Williams said. “I saw a picture where I was in a stroller on the tennis court.”
The No. 1-seeded Williams withdrew before the Indian Wells semifinal earlier this month with a right knee injury, but she has won 19 consecutive matches this year. Her opponent Thursday will be the winner of the match Wednesday night between unseeded American Sloane Stephens and No. 3 Simona Halep.
For much of her quarterfinal, Williams trailed in fist pumps and points, and her frustration quickly showed. After losing three consecutive games to fall behind 4-3 in the first set, the Floridian pounded the court with her racket and drew jeers in the stadium she considers her home court.
Williams won the first set only because Lisicki wobbled in the tiebreaker, hitting three shots into the net before double-faulting on the final point.
Williams played even worse in the second set, losing six games in a row, but then began to grunt louder and hit harder, with positive results. She earned the only break of the final set in the second game and held from there, serving out the match at love.
“Come on!” she shouted when it ended, as if already gearing up for the semifinal.
Tournament officials then rolled out the cake, with pink, green and purple frosting. What’s her favorite kind?
“Vanilla,” she said.
It wasn’t really Williams’ day, but she won anyway.