Serena advances | Sunday Observer

Serena advances

Serena Williams
Serena Williams

NEW YORK AFP: Serena Williams continued her hunt for a record seventh US Open title with a straight-sets win on Thursday at Flushing Meadows.

Williams, the tournament’s third seed, dispatched unseeded Russian Margarita Gasparyan 6-2, 6-4 under the roof of a near-empty Arthur Ashe Stadium on a wet New York evening.

The 38-year-old closed out the first set with ease before a slight wobble in the second when she was broken twice by Gasparyan, before progressing into the third round.

“I’m just happy to get through it and try to focus on the next round,” said Williams, who will take on 2017 champion Sloane Stephens in the last 32.

Williams is seeking a record-equalling 24th singles Grand Slam title at a subdued, spectator-free Billie Jean King US National Tennis Center in New York.

A tournament victory next week would also see her break away from Chris Evert, on six titles, as the most decorated US Open champion of the women’s game in the modern era.

Williams’ chances have been improved by the absence of several top players, included top-ranked Ashleigh Barty and Simona Halep, over coronavirus fears or injury.

She was handed a further boost on Wednesday when top seed Karolina Pliskova tumbled out of the tournament.

The Czech was stunned in straight sets by France’s world number 50 Caroline Garcia.

Williams’ American compatriot Sofia Kenin, the number two seed, continued her impressive form this year with a straightforward 6-4, 6-3 victory over Canadian Leylah Fernandez to progress into the third round.

The reigning Australian Open champion Kenin is yet to drop a set at Flushing Meadows as she bids for her second Grand Slam title of the year, and of her career.

“I feel like I found a groove. I’m really focused on every shot,” said the Moscow-born player who will take on 27th seed Ons Jabeur of Tunisia in the next round.

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