Serena Williams Wins as Her Half of the Draw Thins Out

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Serena Williams had a good day on Sunday. Williams, a No. 8 seed who is in search of a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title, powered her way past No. 22 Petra Martic, 6-3, 6-4, in their fourth-round meeting, which came on the second birthday of Williams’s daughter, Olympia.

But even before she took the court, Williams was presented with a potentially easier road to the final, as second-seeded Ashleigh Barty and third-seeded Karolina Pliskova, both of whom were in Williams’s half of the draw, lost.

No. 18 Wang Qiang stunned Barty, 6-2, 6-4, and No. 16 Johanna Konta beat Pliskova, 6-7, (1), 6-3, 7-5.

Although Williams won in straight sets, she had to work to beat Martic, who is playing perhaps the best tennis of her career at 28.

The only concerning moment for Williams, 37, came in the fifth game of the second set when she twisted her right ankle as she charged the net for a backhand volley. Williams fell to the court and grabbed the ankle, but finished out the game by breaking Martic’s serve.

“It affected me a lit bit mentally because I’ve had a tough year with injuries,” she said in an on-court interview. “Oh my God, not again, I’m finally walking.”

During the changeover, the athletic trainer retaped Williams’s ankle and gave her a brace. Williams finished out the match, but the ankle could be an issue for her quarterfinal meeting against Wang.

It will be the first time Williams and Wang have met on court; Williams pulled out of their scheduled match at the Miami Open in March because of a knee injury.

Konta, who was born in Australia but plays for Britain, is into the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open for the first time, but it is the sixth time she has made it to the round of 8 at a major. She also earned a spot in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon this year and played in a semifinal at the French Open, where she lost to Marketa Vondrousova.

Only No. 1 Naomi Osaka and No. 5 Elina Svitolina remain from the top five women’s seeds. Svitolina was scheduled to play No. 10 Madison Keys on Sunday night.

On the men’s side, No. 3 Roger Federer avoided Barty’s fate and needed three fewer minutes to dismiss David Goffin in three sets, 6-2, 6-2, 6-0. It was Federer’s most dominant performance of the tournament so far and he is back in the quarterfinals after last year’s surprise fourth-round defeat to John Millman.

Federer’s next opponent is Grigor Dimitrov, who beat Alex de Minaur, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4, in their fourth-round match.

Wang had surprisingly little trouble beating a sluggish and sloppy Barty, whose breakout year was capped by winning the French Open and reaching No. 1. Wang, 27, reached the quarterfinal of a Grand Slam event for the first time in 21 appearances.

In addition to the French Open on clay, Barty also won tournaments in Sydney, Australia, and Miami on hardcourts; and Birmingham, England, on grass. She surged from No. 15 in January to No. 1 in June, so despite Sunday’s disappointment, she considered the year a success.

“It’s been incredible,” Barty said. “I mean, it’s a tough day at the office today. But it’s been a year where we’ve hit our goals.”

Wang, who is known on tour as Q, became the first Chinese player to reach the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open since Peng Shuai in 2014. Wang played consistent defensive tennis, while Barty hit 39 unforced errors out of 123 total points, including 24 in the second set. She also failed to convert any of her nine break-point opportunities.

“I wasn’t able to even get one of them, which is really frustrating,” Barty said.

It took four match points, but Wang finally sealed the match when Barty hit a backhand long on an 81-mile-per-hour serve.

Wang pushed Barty back behind the baseline for much of the match, but she also managed to return most of the balls Barty was able to hit in the court, waiting patiently for Barty to make the critical mistakes.

Barty gathered herself for one final push late in the second set when she had two break points with Wang serving at 4-3, 15-40. But Barty hit a backhand slice into the net tape and the ball bounced back into her own court. Then Wang converted a service winner to climb back to deuce.

There were four deuces in the game and Barty won two of them to give her four break points in the game, but Wang held firm. The final two points of the game were both mis-hits by Barty, a forehand into the net and a forehand long.

Now the task gets much harder. When Wang was asked if she possesses the confidence to beat Williams, she shrugged and smiled.

“I don’t know,” she said. “Let’s see.”



Source : NYtimes