Serena Williams became the most successful singles player in US Open history with a solid 7-5 6-3 win over compatriot Kristie Ahn.
It was the American’s 102nd win at Flushing Meadows and she has now surpassed the total racked up by Chris Evert.
Williams has struggled to find her rhythm since the WTA tour resumed. All five of her matches at the Top Seed Open and the Western & Southern Open went to three sets, and she lost to Shelby Rogers and Maria Sakkari at the semi-final and last-16 stages respectively.
Although the American never found her best tennis against Ahn, this seemed like an important step forward. She overcame a slow start and got stronger as the match went on.
“It’s been years since I won a match in straight sets,” Williams joked in her on-court interview. “It felt really good. I told myself to just close it out and I knew I could do that.”
The American continued, “It’s quiet, but it’s such a big stadium with screens and atmosphere. And it’s a Grand Slam, so I’m still as passionate and intense out there.”
Williams re-groups after sloppy start
From 40-30 up in the first game of the match, Williams made an unforced error and hit two double faults to gift Ahn an immediate break.
However, the 23-time Grand Slam champion soon levelled the score. She unleashed a couple of huge strikes to break back in game four.
For the next few games, neither player really excelled. Both Williams and Ahn produced solid games on their serve to move the score along to 4-4. The more experienced American then safely negotiated a nervy moment when she saved a break point in game nine.
After that hold and one more, Williams had the chance to swing freely when Ahn was serving to stay in the set at 5-6. And the more experienced American did exactly that. She hit the ball hard and deep and put her younger opponent under all kinds of pressure. It proved too much for Ahn, as she made a couple of errors which handed Williams the break she needed to seal the set.
At the beginning of the second set, Ahn capitalised on some sloppy play from Williams to establish a 2-0 lead. However, the younger American did not manage to maintain her form, and this enabled the 23-time Grand Slam champion to take control of proceedings and win five games in a row and turn the set on its head.
Ahn steadied herself to force Williams to serve for victory. But the experienced American produced some trademark huge serves to accomplish it with ease.
Williams’ next task will be a second-round encounter with Margarita Gasparyan. The Russian recorded an impressive 6-3 6-7(0) 6-0 victory over 2016 Olympic champion Monica Puig.
Kenin, Konta and Cornet advance
The experienced American will be joined in round two by the most recent Grand Slam champion on the WTA tour: Sofia Kenin. The young American clinically dispatched Yanina Wickmayer 6-2 6-2 in just 68 minutes.
Johanna Konta also secured a place in the next round. She came through a testing first set to beat compatriot Heather Watson 7-6(5) 6-1. The Brit will now play Sorana Cirstea, who defeated Christina McHale 6-4 7-5.
Some players sought out plenty of exhibition tournaments to participate in during the tour’s absence. Alize Cornet was certainly one of those players. She won six matches spread across three editions of the Challenge Elite organised by the French Tennis Federation. And she also reached the final of the Ultimate Tennis Showdown.
All of this match practice has served the Frenchwoman well so far in New York. She beat Kenin in impressive style in the Western & Southern Open. Then she continued her excellent form in round one of the US Open with a 6-3 1-6 6-0 victory over Lauren Davis.
Cornet will now play World No.121 Ysaline Bonaventure, who earned one of the biggest wins of her career when she beat 25th seed Zhang Shuai 4-6 6-3 6-2.
Ash Barty Eases Into Madrid Final
Number 1 seed Ashleigh Barty beat Paula Badosa 6-4 6-3 to reach her fourth final of the 2021 season at the Madrid Mutua Open after winning three titles at the Yarra Valley Classic, Miami and Stuttgart.
The first set went on serve in the first nine games. Barty earned two break points in the 10th game with a lob and loose forehands from Badosa. Badosa saved two set points with winners, but Barty converted her third chance after a double fault from Badosa to close out the first set 6-4.
After an early trade of breaks, Barty earned her second break after a double fault from Badosa in the fourth game to open up a 3-1 lead. The Aussie star saved three break points in the fifth game and held serve for 4-1 with a dropshot. Barty dropped just two more points on serve to close out the second set 6-3.
Barty has extended her red clay winning streak to 16 consecutive matches and her win-loss record to 25-3 this season.
Barty has clinched her 16th consecutive win on red clay. The Australian player avenged her recent defeat against Badosa in the quarter finals in Charleston.
“It was important for me to get that early break back in the second set and keep my nose in front, almost force her to come up with something that was going to be a really high level to be at a high level to be able to get back into the match. I have learnt a lot about clay, without a doubt. I promise you, I am still counting down to the grass court season. It’s one of the my favourite times of the year. I think the memories and the learnings now that we are getting from the red clay has been really cool, to be able to challenge myself in different ways”, said Barty.
Ash Barty Battles Past Petra Kvitova In Madrid
Ash Barty is into the semi-finals of Madrid for the first time after defeating Petra Kvitova.
The world number one needed three sets and just under two hours to beat the three time Madrid champion.
Ashleigh Barty is into the semi finals of the Mutua Madrid Open after beating the number nine seed and three time champion Petra Kvitova in three sets 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 in a match that lasted just under two hours.
The world number one hit 15 winners, served six aces while her Czech opponent his 44 unforced errors in the loss. It was the Aussie who got off to the best possible start holding her opening service game and earning three chances to break in the following service game.
“I started off particularly well, Petra (Kvitova) struggled to find the court a little bit and gave me some cheap points, In the second she served particularly well and I feel like she made a lot more first serves so it was important for me to try and manufacture a break early in the third just to break some momentum and try to find my way back in”
She would break the number nine seed with a sublime return winner to take an early 2-0 lead before the Czech tried to get back into the set earning a break chance of her very own the next game but it was immediately saved with a big serve and Barty held serve.
The world number one continued to dominate the first set earning two more chances to go up a double break which she would convert and would serve out the set in 25 minutes.
The second set is where the Czech number nine seed bounced back and after holding the opening service game broke to take an early lead before the Aussie tried to get the break back but was denied and Kvitova saved three breakpoints.
She would serve out the second set to force a third and deciding set and once again that’s where the number one responded earning the first break of the third set.
The number nine seed had a chance to back on serve but the Aussie would save the break opportunity with a gutsy second serve ace but the resilient Czech stayed in the match and got the break back to go back on serve at 3-2.
Unfortunately for her the Aussie pushed hard once again for the crucial break in the match and would convert on her third attempt and that break was enough for her to serve out the match.
She will next face Paula Bodosa who earlier in the day became the first Spanish women to reach the semifinals at the Madrid Open after upsetting the number eight seed Belinda Bencic and she told Ubitennis what the experience will be like playing in a stadium with fans who will be cheering against her.
“It doesn’t bother me, I’ve played matches in Australia where I’ve had them on my side but it’s a different element, it’s exciting to be able to play in front of a crowd, were grateful this week that we got people to be able to enjoy it with us and enjoy the matches and she’s had an exceptional week, having played her a couple of weeks ago there were things from that match that I learned and we try and take those into account tomorrow as best we can and go out there and try to execute”
Ash Barty Explains How Rise In Tennis Has Affected Her Life
The world No.1 outlines how tennis has impacted her as a person following her latest win in Madrid.
With prize money earnings exceeding more than $18 million Ash Barty says she still sticks to the same ‘10 or 15’ t-shirts over the past five years and rotates between them.
The former French Open champion is currently the highest ranked player in women’s tennis and has won 11 WTA titles so far in his career. Including two this year in Miami and Melbourne. However, the Australian has insisted her rise in the sport hasn’t changed her as a person. Instead she describes it as more of a learning experience.
“I’ve been very fortunate to have many experiences over the last two or three years in my growth and development as a tennis player,” she said following her third round win at the Madrid Open.
“My experiences as a tennis player haven’t changed me as a person. They’ve certainly helped me grow and develop and become a better person, but they certainly haven’t changed any of my true values or anything that I live by. Whether it’s 1 or 100, as a person I couldn’t care less how the tennis works out.”
Despite her success, the Australian stresses that she is no different to everybody else. Last season Barty missed a major of the Tour due to travelling concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since returning to action in February, she has won 22 out of 25 matches played and is currently on a 14-match winning streak when it comes to playing on the red clay.
“I’m not a massive person to go out shopping,” she admits. “I’m a jeans and T-shirt kind of girl. I’ve had the same 10 or 15 T-shirts for five years. I rotate through. Sometimes I’ll go out on a limb and get a different colour that’s not gray, black or white.”
Taking to the court in Madrid this week, the Jaguar logo is placed in the centre of Barty’s dress. She has been endorsed by the company since late 2018 and even drives their F-Pace SUV back in Australia. Although she has recently gained a Porsche after winning the Stuttgart Open in Germany. Is there a temptation to change car brands in the future?
“I don’t know. I love my Jag, that’s all I’m going to say,” she commented. “It was obviously a very cool gift. The tournament in Stuttgart has been doing it for a long time. Porsche has been a great sponsor for them. But I love my Jag.”
On the court in Madrid Barty faces a potentially tricky encounter in the quarter-finals against Petra Kvitova who has already won the tournament on three previous occasions which is more than any other female player. She has won four out of their five most recent meetings on the Tour but still trails their head-to-head 4-5.
“I love to play Petra. She brings out the best in me,” Barty stated. “I just said to Tyz (coach Craig Tyzzer) that we’re going to be counting in Roman numerals the amount of times we’ve played. It’s another challenge, another test. She’s won this tournament multiple times, loves the conditions here. It’s a fresh challenge for me.”
Madrid Open Daily Preview: Former Champions Rafael Nadal and Sascha Zverev Meet in the Quarterfinals
Alexander Zverev and Matteo Berrettini reach the quarter finals in Madrid
Casper Ruud stuns Stefanos Tsitsipas to take the biggest win of his career
Ash Barty Reveals Where Her Confidence Surge In 2021 Came From
Rafael Nadal Lends Backing To Real Madrid’s Zidane Following Champions League Exit
Daria Kasatkina Opens Up About Her Sexuality
(EXCLUSIVE) Q&A With Daria Abramowicz – The Psychologist Behind Iga Switek’s Historic French Open Run
Naomi Osaka And The (Other) Surfaces
Benoit Paire Excluded From Olympics For ‘Deeply Inappropriate Behaviour’
Lorenzo Musetti Blasts ‘Disrespectful’ Evans After Reaching Cagliari Quarter-Finals
Steve Flink: “Jannik Sinner Will Be a Top 10 Player by the US Open”
(VIDEO) Miami Open Final Preview: Jannik Sinner Is The Favourite But Don’t Underestimate Hurkacz
Steve Flink: “Naomi Osaka Will Win At Least A Dozen Slams”
Steve Flink: “Djokovic and Nadal will end up with more Slams than Federer”
Steve Flink: “Why would Djokovic fake an injury when he’s two sets up?”
Hot Topics2 days ago
How Daniil Medvedev Could Become World No.1 By The End Of May
Hot Topics2 days ago
Benoit Paire Opens Up About Personal Struggles Following Madrid Win
Grand Slam3 days ago
Outlook Positive For French Open But Rules Could Change Again, Warns Government
Latest news3 days ago
Ash Barty Explains How Rise In Tennis Has Affected Her Life
ATP2 days ago
Casper Ruud dispatches Felix Auger-Aliassime in Madrid
ATP2 days ago
Ferrero Warns Against Comparing Rising Star Carlos Alcaraz To Nadal
Hot Topics3 days ago
Billie Jean King Cup Finals In Doubt After ‘Surprise’ Withdrawal By Host Hungary
Focus2 days ago
Alexander Bublik Upsets Denis Shapovalov In Madrid