Venus Williams Faces Toughest Task After Her Win Over Minella at U.S. Open

Venus Williams had a much easier time winning her third-round match than answering questions from her sister at the U.S. Open.

The two-time champion won eight straight games midway through her 6-2, 6-1 win last night against Luxembourg’s Mandy Minella. Williams has advanced to the fourth round without losing a set so far in the tournament.

Williams, a third-seeded American, was watched from the stands by her younger sister, Serena, a three-time Open champion and the No. 1 player in the world. Serena is missing the U.S. Open because of a foot injury.

Serena put her sister on the spot in a live ESPN television interview after the match, asking Venus: “In other news, are you seeing anybody now?”

“I have a commitment problem, I’m unable to commit,” Venus told her sister. “Thankfully, able to commit to tennis and to what shot I’m going to hit out there.”

Williams, who lost her first two service games against the 185th-ranked Minella and was tied 2-2 in the first set before going on her streak, will play 16th-seeded Israeli Shahar Peer in the fourth round. Peer won 6-4, 6-4 against Flavia Pennetta, the 19th seed from Italy.

Men’s No. 1 seed Rafael Nadal of Spain maintained his perfect record on service games in a 6-2, 7-6 (7-5), 7-5 win against Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan in the final match of the night. Nadal has won all 32 of his service games in the first two rounds of the tournament.

Murray Wins

Fourth-seeded Briton Andy Murray needed 85 minutes to defeat Dustin Brown of Jamaica 7-5, 6-3, 6-0. Sam Querrey, a 20th-seeded American, joined Murray in the third round after defeating Marcel Granollers of Spain 6-2, 6-3, 6-4. American qualifier Ryan Harrison blew three match points and lost a fifth-set tiebreaker.

The rain almost saved Harrison, who came back from a delay to overcome a service break early in the fifth set and force the decisive tiebreaker in his 4-hour, 13-minute second-round match against Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine.

Harrison, an 18-year-old from Shreveport, Louisiana, who is ranked 220th in the world, took a 6-3 lead in the tiebreaker before wasting three match points. He then double faulted, and Stakhovsky finished his 6-3, 5-7, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (8-6) victory with a volley winner that deflated the rowdy crowd chanting “Let’s Go Ryan” on the Grandstand court.

“To have all the support I had was incredible,” said Harrison, whose first-round victory was an upset of 15th-seeded Croatian Ivan Ljubicic. “Obviously, I’m not the happiest guy in the world right now, but it was a great experience.”

Isner Advances

John Isner, the 18th-seeded American, advanced to the third round with a 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (9-7), 6-4 defeat of Switzerland’s Marco Chiudinelli.

The men completed their second round last night. The women already are halfway through their third round.

Defending women’s champion Kim Clijsters joined Williams in the women’s final 16 on the first rainy day of the tournament. After four days of temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 Celsius), Hurricane Earl brought cooler conditions and a 30- minute rain delay.

Clijsters, the No. 2 seed from Belgium, dropped her first three games against Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic before sweeping the next 12. Clijsters, who won the tournament last year as an unseeded player after coming out of retirement, next will face Ana Ivanovic of Serbia for a place in the quarterfinals.

Women’s fifth seed Samantha Stosur of Australia, sixth seed Francesca Schiavone of Italy and 11th seed Elena Dementieva of Russia all also advanced in straight sets to the fourth round.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rob Gloster at the U.S. Open at rgloster@bloomberg.net

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