Serena Williams knocked out second-seeded Anett Kontaveit of Estonia 7-6(4), 2-6, 6-2 in the second round of the US Open on Wednesday night.
As a result, the 40-year-old American, winner of 23 Grand Slam titles in women’s singles, has made sure to play at least one more singles match in what could be the last tournament of her illustrious career.
“I still have some fuel left,” Williams said with a smile during the on-field interview. This is where I am at my best. I like challenges and I show that I am up to this one. »
As in his first-round match on Monday night, Williams was able to enjoy the support of a raucous crowd at Arthur-Ashe Stadium.
She hit serves that topped out at 120 mph, held her own against Kontaveit in long rallies from the baseline, and delivered brilliant shots when she needed them most.
After winning a tough first set and experiencing a dip in her level of play in the second set, Williams headed to the locker room for a break before heading into the deciding set.
On the return, it was Williams who raised the level of her game and showed that she was the best player at this time of the duel. As she has done so often, on so many stages, when faced with such a high stake.
Williams, winner of six titles at Flushing Meadows, will play her next match on Friday, against Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic.
After Williams’ performance, it was the turn of Russian Daniil Medvedev, favorite in the men’s singles, to step onto the Arthur-Ashe stadium court, against Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech, 58th player in the world.
Already the last two women’s singles champions of the United States Tennis Open had been eliminated, one of the semi-finalists of the 2021 edition suffered the same fate on Wednesday afternoon.
Third-seeded Maria Sakkari of Greece lost 3-6, 7-5, 7-5 to China’s Wang Xiyu in a second-round duel.
Last year, Sakkari made it to two Grand Slam semi-finals, but she struggled to build on her 2021 successes.
This week she admitted that she had struggled to deal with increased fame as a result of her rise to No. 3 in the WTA rankings. Also, she stated that some days she didn’t enjoy tennis and didn’t even want to get out of bed.
She also claimed to have come to this tournament in a better state of mind, but the level of her game on Wednesday simply did not allow her to overcome Wang, 75th player in the world.
The latter reached the third round of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in her career.
“It’s disappointing, it hurts because I felt better, I had more fun, I felt good on the court. It’s very disappointing that the level of my game was so low today,” said the 27-year-old Greek.
Sakkari’s elimination came a day after the defeats of Emma Raducanu, defending champion, and Naomi Osaka, who won the tournament on two occasions.
In another match scheduled for Wednesday afternoon, fifth-seeded Ons Jabeur earned a ticket to the third round following a straight-set 7-5, 6-2 victory over Elizabeth Mandlik, who is the daughter of former player Hana Mandlikova, champion of the tournament in 1985.
In her next outing, Jabeur will face 31st-ranked American Shelby Rogers, who defeated Viktoria Kuzmova 7-5, 6-1.
Americans Cori Gauff (12th) and Madison Keys (20th) also won their second-round match and will face off in the third round.
On the men’s side, Norway’s Casper Ruud (5th), Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta (12th), Italy’s Matteo Berrettini (13th) and British veteran Andy Murray all scored victories in four sets after conceding the first set.
Berrettini and Murray will battle it out in the third round, while Ruud will take on American Tommy Paul who knocked out compatriot Sebastian Korda in five sets early in the evening.
Australians Alex De Minaur (18th) and Nick Kyrgios (23rd) also reached the third round.