Her yells of “Come on!” filling a stadium devoid of spectators, Serena Williams was pushed to the brink of a shocking loss in her longest match since 2012 earlier than pulling away with an ideal tiebreaker and edging Arantxa Rus 7-6 (6), 3-6, 7-6 (0) Monday on the Western & Southern Open. Rus is a Dutch qualifier ranked No. 72 whose flat, left-handed strokes from the baseline gave Williams some bother. Williams dropped 4 video games in a row within the second set, then did so once more within the third, when she fell behind 6-5.
Rus served for the match there and, at deuce in that sport, was two factors from victory.
She wouldn’t win one other level. A double-fault gave Williams a break probability, and an errant groundstroke despatched the match to the concluding tiebreaker.
Displaying the strokes and grit that carried her to 23 Grand Slam titles — in opposition to an opponent who has by no means gained a lot as one tour-level singles title of any kind — Williams ran away with it, ending the 2-hour, 48-minute match with a forehand, celebrating most factors with a yell and a clenched left fist.
Williams hadn’t spent that a lot time on a court docket for the reason that 2012 French Open, when she misplaced within the first spherical to Virginie Razzano in Three hours, Three minutes. That was Williams’ solely profession first-round exit at a Grand Slam event — and so maybe she’d relatively neglect it.
“I’m making an attempt to think about the final time I performed a three-hour match,” Williams stated in a postmatch TV interview.
“That was powerful. It was an actual bodily match on the market,” she stated about dealing with Rus. “She simply stored combating.”
The 38-year-old American is seeded third on the Western & Southern Open, which usually is held in Ohio however was moved to the positioning of the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows this 12 months due to the coronavirus pandemic. The 2 hard-court tournaments are forming an uncommon doubleheader with no followers; the U.S. Open begins Aug. 31.
After losses Sunday by No. 1 seed Karolina Pliskova and No. 2 Sofia Kenin, it appeared Williams may be part of them on the way in which out.
However thanks partially to 14 aces — one at 121 mph — Williams moved right into a third-round match in opposition to No. 13 Maria Sakkari, a 6-4, 7-6 (9) winner in opposition to Yulia Putintseva on Monday after beating 16-year-old American Coco Gauff within the first spherical.
In different ladies’s motion, No. 6 seed Petra Kvitova, a two-time Wimbledon champion, joined the listing of early exits by high gamers with a 2-6, 7-5, 6-2 loss to 48th-ranked Marie Bouzkova.
No. eight Johanna Konta defeated Kirsten Flipkens 6-2, 6-0, No. 14 Elise Mertens obtained previous Kristina Mladenovic 6-1, 6-7 (5), 6-Three and qualifier Jessica Pegula beat 18-year-old Amanda Anisimova 7-5, 6-2 in an all-American matchup.
Whereas No. 1 Novak Djokovic was scheduled to play within the night, and No. Three seed Daniil Medvedev started the protection of his 2019 Western & Southern Open title with a straight-set victory, two American males knocked off seeded opponents.
Reilly Opelka — at 6-foot-11, he’s 16 inches taller than Monday’s opponent — eradicated No. 9 seed Diego Scwartzman 6-3, 7-6 (4), and Tennys Sandgren got here again for a 6-7 (4), 6-2, 7-6 (5) victory over No. 15 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime, who collected 15 double-faults.
No. 16 John Isner hit 35 aces and gained 4-6, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5) regardless of by no means breaking John Millman’s serve.