Williams sisters cruise through to strike blow for the old guard
A younger generation of American women may be emerging, but the old guard are not ready to step aside yet. Serena and Venus Williams, who, as the world No 1 and No 20 respectively, are the two highest ranked American women and are both through to the third round of the US Open here.
After 34-year-old Venus had booked her place in the last 32 the previous evening with a convincing victory over Timea Bacsinszky, 32-year-old Serena yesterday followed suit by brushing aside Vania King, winning 6-1, 6-0 in just 56 minutes.
King, the world No 81, never looked capable of troubling her fellow American, although a stiff breeze made life difficult for both players. Serena hit three double faults in her first service game and found serving difficult throughout.
"It was so hard to play in the wind, especially on one side," Serena said afterwards. "It makes your serve difficult. I'm really happy to get through a solid match with the conditions today."
In the first set, Williams put just 45 per cent of her first serves in court, though she never looked in danger. King lacked the power to unsettle Williams and also looked short of confidence. The only game the 25-year-old won was when she served at 0-2 in the opening set. Thereafter, Williams won 10 games in a row, closing out the victory when King netted a backhand on the second match point.
Serena is the defending champion here, but has had a disappointing year in the Grand Slam tournaments, having lost in the fourth round in Melbourne, the second round in Paris and the third round at Wimbledon.
As a consequence, her position at the top of the world rankings is not as secure as it was. The oldest player ever to hold the world No 1 position, she needs to reach the quarter-finals here to ensure that she extends her sixth spell at the summit.
Having beaten Taylor Townsend in her opening match, Serena will face an American for the third round in a row when she takes on Varvara Lepchenko tomorrow. Lepchenko, the world No 52, beat Germany's Mona Barthel 6-4, 6-0.
Venus is through to the third round for the first time for four years. After her 6-1, 6-4 victory over Bacsinszky she next faces Sara Errani, the world No 14, who has lost all three of their previous meetings.
It is 13 years since Venus won the second of her two US Open titles and three years since the former world No 1 announced that she is suffering from Sjogren's syndrome, an incurable auto-immune disease. Having won the title in Dubai and reached two other finals this year, she is in arguably her best form since she made the semi-finals of her home Grand Slam event in 2010. "I feel like I can rely on myself to compete really well," she said after her latest win.
Christina McHale and Shelby Rogers, two of the younger generation of American players, both lost to higher-ranked opponents. McHale made a good start before losing 6-3, 6-2 to Victoria Azarenka, while Rogers was beaten 6-4, 6-3 by Flavia Pennetta. Ana Ivanovic made her earliest exit for five years when she was beaten 7-5, 6-4 by Karolina Pliskova. (© Independent News Service)