Venus Williams Gets Past U.S. Open Second Round as Wawrinka Wins

Venus Williams said she’s thrilled about her latest accomplishment at the U.S. Open tennis tournament, where the two-time champion got past the second round for the first time in four years.

Williams, a 6-1, 6-4 winner against Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland, is the oldest player left in the women’s draw, at 34. The youngest, 15-year-old Catherine Bellis, is back in action today at the season’s final Grand Slam.

Williams’s victory last night at Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York came after Day 3 losses by fourth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland and No. 21 Sloane Stephens of the U.S. Fifth-seeded Maria Sharapova of Russia recovered from a set down to defeat Alexandra Dulgheru of Romania and men’s third seed Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland needed four sets to fight past Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil in his opening match.

“Now I’m happy,” said Williams, who won U.S. Open titles in 2000 and 2001, yet had been ousted in the second round in New York the past three years. “Finally I did something I couldn’t do the last couple years.”

Women’s second seed Simona Halep of Romania, No. 6 Angelique Kerber of Germany, No. 9 Jelena Jankovic of Serbia and No. 10 Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark also won their second-round matches yesterday in straight sets.

Williams’s younger sister, Serena, will try to join her in the third round today as the top-seeded five-time champion meets fellow American Vania King at the National Tennis Center. Also in action is Bellis, who two days ago became the youngest woman to win a U.S. Open singles match since 1996.

Venus’s Advice

Venus Williams said the best advice she could offer Bellis, who faces Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan on Court 17, is to try to stay relaxed. The last 15-year-old to win twice at the U.S. Open was Mary Joe Fernandez in 1986.

“She can hit the ball,” Williams, who entered this year’s U.S. Open seeded 19th, said of Bellis. “I hope she keeps playing well. She’s so young though, so sometimes it takes a little time.”

Novak Djokovic, the 2011 champion and top men’s seed from Serbia, is scheduled to play his second-round match today against Paul-Henri Mathieu of France.

Eighth-seeded Andy Murray of Britain and women’s No. 7 seed Eugenie Bouchard of Canada are scheduled to play featured night session matches on Ashe. Also in action are John Isner and Sam Querrey -- two of the three American men left in the tournament -- and fifth-seeded Milos Raonic of Canada.

Women’s Matches

In the women’s draw, No. 3 Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic, No. 8 Ana Ivanovic of Serbia, No. 11 Flavia Pennetta of Italy and No. 16 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus will play second-round matches.

Venus Williams, who hasn’t gotten past the fourth round at one of the sport’s four majors since making the semifinals at the 2010 U.S. Open, advances to play No. 13 Sara Errani of Italy. Errani, who reached the semifinals of the 2012 U.S. Open, yesterday fought past Australian qualifier Anastasia Rodionova 6-4, 7-6 (7-2).

Sharapova, the 2006 champion, pulled out a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 win against the 95th-ranked Dulgheru.

“It was tricky conditions and a tough opponent,” Sharapova said following her 17th three-set match this year, the most on the WTA Tour. “I was very happy that I was able to come back and win.”

Wawrinka, who won this year’s Australian Open for his first major title, dropped the third set against Bellucci before winning 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7-1) in last night’s final match. It ended just after 12:30 a.m. today in New York.

“It turned out to be a tricky match,” said Wawrinka, who won the first two sets in 61 minutes. “The fourth set I tried to focus more on my game and not on what he was doing. I was playing a little bit more aggressive at the end of the match and that made the difference.”

Radwanska Exits

Poland’s Radwanska became the highest-ranked player to lose so far when she was beaten 6-3, 6-4 by China’s Peng Shuai in Louis Armstrong Stadium. Stephens rallied to win the first set against Sweden’s Johanna Larsson and held a 3-0 second-set lead against before losing 5-7, 6-4, 6-2.

On the men’s side, sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic won in straight sets yesterday against 2001 champion Lleyton Hewitt, who’s now ranked 41st on the ATP Tour.

Marin Cilic, the men’s No. 14 seed from Croatia, advanced when Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus retired while trailing 6-3, 3-1. Feliciano Lopez of Spain, the 19th seed, also moved on when Ivan Dodig of Croatia retired with the two players tied at a game apiece in the final set.

Both U.S. men who played opening-round matches yesterday were ousted, as Steve Johnson retired with cramps and Ryan Harrison was beaten by No. 7 seed Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria in straight sets. Only three of the 12 Americans in the men’s draw -- Isner, Querrey and Tim Smyczek -- reached the second round. In 2013, the U.S. didn’t have a man in the last 16 for the first time in the tournament’s 133-year history.

“It’s not the end of the world,” Johnson said after withdrawing in the fourth set of his match while ahead two sets to one. “But it feels like it right now.”

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