Now that the last of the surprising teenagers has lost, Serena Williams is back in her accustomed spot as the final American woman at the U.S. Open.
Williams, a three-time champion, defeated No. 4 seed Victoria Azarenka 6-1, 7-6 (7-5) yesterday and became the only U.S. woman to reach the fourth round at the National Tennis Center in New York.
The 29-year-old Williams earned that distinction when Sloane Stephens, the last of six American teenage women in the tournament, battled her nerves while losing in straight sets last night to No. 16 Ana Ivanovic of Serbia.
Stephens, daughter of the late New England Patriots running back John Stephens, entered her first U.S. Open this week ranked 106th on the WTA Tour and beat Israeli Shahar Peer, the No. 23 seed, in the second round. She had two aces and six double faults against Ivanovic.
“I was so caught up in being tight and nervous and not really handling the situation well to just freaking out,” Stephens said in a news conference. “Honestly, I was thinking like a 10-year-old, things that my brother would think, just weird stuff.”
Five-time men’s winner Roger Federer advanced yesterday with a four-set win against Marin Cilic. Top women’s seed Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark defeated American Vania King in straight sets. The top men’s seed, Novak Djokovic of Serbia, defeated Nikolay Davydenko of Russia 6-3, 6-4, 6-2. Mardy Fish, the highest-seeded American man at No. 8, also advanced in three sets.
Williams Defeats Azarenka
Williams, an American seeded 28th following two injury- marred years, survived an 82-minute second set and needed five match points to beat Azarenka of Belarus 6-1, 7-6 (7-5) in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
“I definitely wasn’t happy with the way I played overall today,” Williams said in a news conference. “You know, I was a wee bit disappointed. But I can build on it.”
Williams also was the final American woman in the tournament in 2009 and 2008. She did not play last year because of injury.
Williams won the first five games of the 28-minute first set and had three match points at 5-3 in the second set before Azarenka saved a service game. Azarenka fought off another match point at 5-4 before forcing the tiebreaker, in which Williams had her 12th ace of the match.
Williams’s next opponent is Ivanovic, who won 6-3, 6-4 against Stephens, 18, who joined fellow American teen Christina McHale as a third-round loser. Madison Keys and Coco Vandeweghe lost in the second round and two other U.S. teens, Lauren Davis and Melanie Oudin, were first-round losers.
Williams Betting Favorite
Williams entered the tournament as the betting favorite, with 9-to-5 odds of winning her fourth title, according to Las Vegas Sports Consultants, which advises Nevada sports books on setting their gambling lines.
Federer, the No. 3 seed from Switzerland, beat Cilic, the No. 27 seed from Croatia, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 on the Ashe Stadium court. Federer holds the record with 16 Grand Slam titles and is trying to extend his streak of winning at least one major title in every year since 2003.
He’ll next play Juan Monaco of Argentina for a chance to reach his 30th straight Grand Slam quarterfinal.
Wozniacki, a finalist at the 2009 U.S. Open and a semifinalist last year, beat King 6-2, 6-4. King, a 22-year-old American who was looking to reach her first Grand Slam fourth round, lost six of her nine service games. Wozniacki lost her serve three times.
‘It was very windy today out there and it wasn’t just going one way, it was shifting, so I found it very difficult to place the ball,” Wozniacki said in a news conference.
Wozniacki’s Next Match
Wozniacki, who has held the No. 1 ranking on the WTA Tour for 46 weeks, moved on to face Svetlana Kuznetsova, the No. 15 seed from Russia and the 2004 U.S. Open winner, for a spot in the quarterfinals.
Fish beat Kevin Anderson of South Africa 6-4, 7-6 (7-4), 7- 6 (7-3) in Louis Armstrong Stadium to reach the fourth round. Tomas Berdych, the No. 9 seed from the Czech Republic, retired from his match with Janko Tipsarevic because of a shoulder injury while trailing 6-4, 5-0.
Francesca Schiavone, the women’s No. 7 seed from Italy, came back to beat South African Chanelle Scheepers 5-7, 7-6 (7- 5), 6-3 on the Grandstand court. Andrea Petkovic, the No. 10 seed from Germany, beat Roberta Vinci, the No. 18 seed from Italy, 6-4, 6-0.
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