SAN DIEGO, September 1, 2013 – Continuing her outstanding play this year, Serena Williams showed she still sits atop the throne as queen of women’s tennis, sending rising star Sloane Stephens home in straight sets, 6-4, 6-1.
The early games made it look the battle everyone hoped to see, with both players holding serve. But Stephens started making unforced errors, which cancelled out many moments of exceptional tennis on display. From 4-4 in the first set, Williams won eight of the last nine games. Stephens had 29 unforced errors.
Williams pounced on her opportunities, and when Stephens was playing well demonstrated exceptional defensive skills. It wasn’t only about the powerhouse serve today, although Williams launched a few in the 125 mile per hour range.
After the match, Williams said, “Sloane is such a great player. How excited are we for the future of American tennis?” to the cheers of the crowd. Williams said the match felt like higher stakes than a third-round contest. “I definitely felt like it was something bigger, but I had to stay focused for the moment. The whole time, I tried to stay calm, have fun and relax, stay composed.”
Williams will now play 18th seed Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain, who got an upset win over Angelique Kerber.
Still rolling on the men’s side is 2001 U.S. Open champion Lleyton Hewitt of Australia. The popular 32-year-old veteran defeated Evgeny Donskoy 6-3, 7-6 (5), 3-6, 6-1. Hewitt finds himself in the Round of 16 quarterfinals for the first time since 2006 after years of battling injuries.
Remaining highlights of the Sunday schedule include number one seed Novak Djokovic playing at 7 p.m. ET against Joao Sousa of Portugal. Also on the schedule tonight at 7 p.m. ET is Jelena Jankovic against Li Na of China, both top ten seeds.
Returning U.S. Open men’s champion Andy Murray started slow as he often does, but nevertheless made quick work of Florian Mayer of Germany, beating him in two hours in straight sets, 7-6 (2), 6-2, 6-2. Murray will now play 65th-ranked Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan, who won in five-sets against 20-seed Andreas Seppi of Italy, 6-3, 6-4, 2-6, 3-6, 6-1.
Fifth-seeded Tomas Berdych joins Murray after defeating number 31 seed Julien Benneteau in straight sets. He hasn’t lost a single set so far. He will play ninth-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland. Wawrinka beat Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus, who played with great determination in the loss, 6-3, 6-2, 6-7 (1), 7-6 (7).
American doubles team Bob and Mike Bryan lost the first set and a break of their third-round doubles match against unseeded Canadians Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil. But the twin brothers came roaring back for a 6-7 (1), 7-5, 6-2 victory. The Bryans are trying to become the first men’s double team of the Open era and the first since 1951 to win all four major tournaments in the same year. They have already won four straight titles starting with last year’s 2012 U.S. Open, the so-called “Bryan Slam.”
The Round of 16, the fourth round quarterfinals, is where tennis viewing reaches beyond the hard core fans to draw people who only have interest in the top names. It’s a shame as some of the best play in the U.S. Open has already taken place in matches like Lleyton Hewitt’s win over Juan Martin del Potro, and the narrow victory by John Isner of the U.S. over entertaining player Gael Monfils of France.
Working for a spot in the Round of 16 in games Monday: second seed Victoria Azarenka, surprise wild card Alison Riske of the U.S., Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia, and Ana Ivanovic of Serbia. Three Italian ladies are still in it: Flavia Pennetta, Camila Giorgi, and Roberta Vinci. On the men’s side, three Spanish players remain. Rafael Nadal will play Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany; Roger Federer will play Tommy Robredo, and David Ferrer will play Janko Tipsarevic. Richard Gasquet of France and Milos Raonic will square off in a top ten match-up.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She covers the Sweet Science for Communities, along with other news in the sports world. Read Ringside Seat in Communities at Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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