Wednesday 1 April, 2020

Venus wins at US Open, could meet Serena in 3rd round

Venus Williams returns the ball to Camila Giorgi, of Italy, during the second round of the U.S. Open tennis tournament, Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018, in New York.

Venus Williams returns the ball to Camila Giorgi, of Italy, during the second round of the U.S. Open tennis tournament, Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018, in New York.

Venus Williams did her part, then waited to see if Serena would win to set up an earlier-than-usual Grand Slam matchup between the sisters at the U.S. Open.

Venus beat Camila Giorgi 6-4, 7-5 on Wednesday, a couple of hours before Serena was scheduled for a match at night. A victory then would have the Williams sisters meeting in the third round, earlier than they have in a Grand Slam in 20 years.

"Obviously, it's early in the tournament, so both of us are going to be looking forward to continuing to play better," Venus said. "Obviously, it's definitely a tough draw. She's definitely fully capable of winning tonight's match. So hopefully I'll see her Friday."

Defending champion Sloane Stephens and two-time U.S. Open finalist Victoria Azarenka also will meet in the third round after victories on another hot and humid day at the final Grand Slam tournament of the year, where simply winning wasn't enough.

Winning quickly and getting back indoors was on everyone's mind.

"Yeah, I'm very happy about that," Azarenka said after overpowering No. 25 seed Daria Gavrilova of Australia 6-1, 6-2.

Stephens was in trouble early before rallying to beat Ukrainian qualifier Anhelina Kalinina 4-6, 7-5, 6-2.

Venus Williams was spared some of the most direct sun by playing in the rebuilt Louis Armstrong Stadium, which is well-shaded. But there was only so much protection available on a day when temperatures soared into the mid-90s for the second straight day.

"Maybe the hottest conditions I have every played (in)," No. 20 seed Borna Coric said after winning his second-round match in straight sets.

An extreme heat rule was to remain in effect until further notice, allowing men to take a 10-minute break between the third and fourth set of singles matches, and women to do so between their second and third sets.

Serena, at No. 17 seeded one spot below her older sister, should face cooler conditions during her night match against Carina Witthoeft.

If she wins, the showdown with Venus would be the earliest between the Williams sisters at a Grand Slam tournament since they played in the second round of the 1998 Australian Open in their very first meeting on tour.

They have twice met in the U.S. Open final, splitting meetings in 2001 and 2002.

Other seeded winners on the women's side included No. 7 Elina Svitolina, No. 8 Karolina Pliskova, No. 15 Elise Mertens, No. 19 Anastasija Sevastova and No. 23 Barbora Strycova, all in straight sets.

"Especially with the heat, I wanted to make the match a little shorter," Mertens said.

Juan Martin del Potro beat American Dennis Kudla 6-3, 6-1, 7-6 (4), but there won't be a third-round meeting of past champions in the third round. The 2009 winner will face No. 31 seed Fernando Verdasco, who ended 2012 winner Andy Murray's return to the U.S. Open after a year absence with a 7-5, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory.

Stan Wawrinka ran his U.S. Open winning streak to nine, and the 2016 champion will next meet No. 25 seed Milos Raonic. But No. 15 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas was eliminated in the second round, a surprisingly early exit after his strong hard-court season.

No. 5 seed Kevin Anderson, last year's runner-up, was an easy winner, and ninth-seeded Dominic Thiem pulled out a five-set victory over American Steve Johnson.

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