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Serena Williams headlines successful day for locals at US Open

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Roar Guru
4th September, 2020
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It was another impressive day for the locals at the 2020 US Open, with former champions Serena Williams and Sloane Stephens as well as reigning Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin, Madison Keys and Amanda Anisimova all advancing to Round 3.

Williams, who is shooting for a record-equalling 24th major singles title but first since the 2017 Australian Open, marched into a third-round showdown with compatriot Stephens after downing Russian Margarita Gasparyan in straight sets on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The 38-year-old strolled through the first set but was given more of a challenge in the second, needing ten games to win the set, and therefore the match in straight sets.

Stephens, meanwhile, thrashed Belarusian Olga Govortsova in straight sets, losing just four games as she recorded back-to-back victories for the first time this year.

This has set up what promises to be a grudge match between Williams and Stephens, who won the US Open in 2017, which Williams missed as she gave birth to her daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian.

This will be the seventh time the pair come face to face, but first since the 2015 French Open and first at the US Open since 2013.

Serena Williams

(Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

Williams has won five of six previous meetings, with Stephens’ sole victory coming at the 2013 Australian Open, where as a 19-year-old she came from a set down to win. She was one of only three players to defeat Williams that year, the others being Victoria Azarenka (twice) and Sabine Lisicki.

Given what both players have achieved in their careers, and the level of interest expected to be generated from this match, you can bet that it will be the headline match on Arthur Ashe Stadium on Saturday night (Sunday morning AEST).

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With tennis fans prohibited from setting foot in Flushing Meadows this year, it also stands to be one of the most-watched tennis matches in the United States this year.

Whichever of Williams and Stephens wins could face yet another local, recently-turned 19-year-old Amanda Anisimova, who came from a set down to defeat compatriot Katrina Scott in three sets and set up a clash against 15th seed Maria Sakkari.

Beaten 2017 finalist Madison Keys also continued on her impressive form, defeating Spaniard Aliona Bolsova for the loss of just three games, while second seed Sofia Kenin took care of Leylah Annie Fernandez, winning 6-4, 6-3.

Three more top ten seeds bid farewell to Flushing Meadows, with Aryna Sabalenka, Johanna Konta and Garbine Muguruza bowing out at the hands of Victoria Azarenka, Sorana Cirstea and Tsvetana Pironkova, respectively.

Azarenka’s victory over fifth seed Sabalenka reversed her loss to the same opponent in the first round last year, whereby the latter came from a set down to win.

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Konta, on the other hand, was made to pay the price for a poor second serve as Cirstea, a former French Open quarter-finalist, claimed her first top 20 victory in nearly 16 months.

The Brit won the first set easily and was on the brink of victory in the second before Cirstea won the second in a tiebreak, forcing a one-set shootout. The Romanian then held her nerve to win the final set 6-4 and therefore set up a third-round clash with 20th seed Karolina Muchova.

Three other matches were suspended due to rain, including a match between Ekaterina Alexandrova and Caty McNally, which was stopped at a set apiece.

On the men’s side, Andy Murray could not back up his comeback first-round victory, falling to Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime in straight sets, winning only nine games.

Joining him at the departure gates were 14th seed Grigor Dimitrov, who fell in five sets to Hungarian Marton Fucsovics – the same man to whom he lost at the Cincinnati Masters last week – and 25th seed Milos Raonic, who fell to compatriot Vasek Pospisil in four sets.

But there were no such problems for second seed Dominic Thiem, who easily defeated India’s Sumit Nagal to set up a third-round showdown against 2014 champion Marin Cilic, who needed four sets to defeat Norbert Gombos.

The 21st seeded Australian Alex de Minaur joined countryman Jordan Thompson in the third round, overcoming a third set blip to defeat French veteran Richard Gasquet in four sets and thus advance to the third round at Flushing Meadows once again.

Alex De Minaur

(Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)

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De Minaur, who missed the Australian Open earlier this year due to injury, had three match points in the third set for a straight-sets victory, but Gasquet fought them off to force a fourth set, and very nearly forced a deciding set before De Minaur won it 7-5.

He next faces Russian Karen Khachanov, who defeated countryman Andrey Kuznetsov in straight sets.

But the tournament is over for Chris O’Connell, who was no match for Russian third seed Daniil Medvedev who won their encounter in straight sets.

Sixth seed Matteo Berrettini, eighth seed Roberto Bautista Agut and tenth seed Andrey Rublev were also victorious. If the former two win their respective third-round matches, then they will face off in the last 16 for a quarter-final berth, likely to be against Medvedev.

Apart from four second-round matches and a first-round doubles match, which must be completed this morning (AEST), the third round of singles will get underway with 2018 champion Naomi Osaka kicking off proceedings on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The 22-year-old is up against Marta Kostyuk before we see the first clash of seeds when Canadian 12th seed Denis Shapovalov comes up against 19th-seeded local Taylor Fritz, with that match scheduled not to start before 1:30pm local time.

In the evening, top seed Novak Djokovic will continue his march towards the title when he faces Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff, after which is followed by sixth seed Petra Kvitova taking on local Jessica Pegula.

Former champion Angelique Kerber, whose draw opened up with the second-round departure of top seed Karolina Pliskova, will feature on Louis Armstrong Stadium, as will Greek fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas and German fifth seed Alexander Zverev.

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Just two days after knocking off top seed Pliskova, Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia has been assigned to Court 17 for her match against Jennifer Brady, while Australia’s Jordan Thompson is on Court 11 for his match against Mikhail Kukushkin.

Matches to watch on Day 5

Arthur Ashe Stadium
Day session – play starts at 12:00pm (2:00am AEST)
[4] Naomi Osaka (JPN) vs Marta Kostyuk (UKR)
Not before 1:30pm (3:30am AEST)
[12] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) vs [19] Taylor Fritz (USA)

Night session – play starts at 7:00pm (9:00am AEST)
[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs [28] Jan-Lennard Struff (GER)
Jessica Pegula (USA) vs [6] Petra Kvitova (CZE)

Louis Armstrong Stadium
Play starts at 11:00am (1:00am AEST)
Varvara Gracheva (RUS) vs [8] Petra Martic (CRO)
[17] Angelique Kerber (GER) vs Ann Li (USA)
[32] Adrian Mannarino (FRA) vs [5] Alexander Zverev (GER)
[4] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) vs [27] Borna Coric (CRO)