Serena sets up 3rd-round showdown with Venus at U.S. Open

Get ready for the latest Grand Slam installment of Williams vs. Williams. One big difference this time: The superstar siblings will be meeting in the third round at the U.S. Open, their earliest showdown at a major tournament in 20 years.

Serena Williams set up the highly anticipated matchup at Flushing Meadows by hitting 13 aces and overwhelming 101st-ranked Carina Witthoeft of Germany 6-2, 6-2 in a little more than an hour in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Wednesday night. Hours earlier, across the way at Louis Armstrong Stadium, Venus Williams did her part with another straight-set victory, eliminating 40th-ranked Camila Giorgi of Italy 6-4, 7-5.

“I hope,” Venus said after her match, “we get to play.”

Serena made sure of it.

They will play Friday, and it is going to be their 30th tour-level encounter — plus, of course, all those times when they traded shots from across the net as kids in California, then on practice courts all around the world. It’s also soonest the sisters have played each other at any Grand Slam since their very first tour match, all the way back at the 1998 Australian Open. Venus won that one. But since then, it’s been the younger Serena who’s grown dominant.

The reason this match comes so early is that their rankings are not what they’ve been in the past. Serena is No. 26, playing in only the seventh tournament since she was off the tour for more than a year while having a baby. Even though the U.S. Tennis Association bumped her seeding up to reflect her past success, it still placed her at No. 17. Venus, meanwhile is No. 16.

“It’s so young in the tournament,” Serena said. “We would have rather met later.”

She leads the series 17-12, including 10-5 at majors.

Murray ousted

Andy Murray’s return to the U.S. Open lasted just two rounds.

The 2012 champion was eliminated by No. 31 seed Fernando Verdasco 7-5, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4. The Spaniard will face a second straight past champion at Flushing Meadows when he meets third-seeded Juan Martin del Potro in the third round.

Andy Murray of Great Britain was eliminated from the U.S. Open following his 7-5, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 second-round defeat to Spain’s Fernando Verdasco on Wednesday. (John G. Mabanglo/EPA-EFE)

Murray missed last year’s tournament because of a hip injury and didn’t consider himself a contender this year because of his lack of preparation.

Verdasco won for just the second time in 15 career meetings with Murray, who had multiple chances to even the final game of a 64-minute final set before the left-hander finished it.

In other action, Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro cruised past American Denis Kudla in straight sets, 6-3, 6-1, 7-6 (4), on Wednesday to advance to the third round at the U.S. Open in New York.

Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina defeated Denis Kudla of the United States 6-3, 6-1, 7-6 (7-4) on Wednesday to advance to the third round of the U.S. Open. (Ray Stubblebine/EPA-EFE)

Del Potro, the No. 3 seed and 2009 champion at the event, struck 20 aces and 36 winners in the match, which he finished in 1 hour, 59 minutes. He never faced break point while converting four breaks of his own against Kudla, who committed 32 unforced errors.

The Argentine led the way on a day where all but one of the seeded players in action early won their matches. The evening slate will feature top-ranked top-seeded Spaniard Rafael Nadal facing Canadian Vasek Pospisil.

Stephens sets up encounter with Azarenka 

Defending champion Sloane Stephens rallied to reach the third round of the U.S. Open with a 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 victory over Anhelina Kalinina.

Stephens set up a third-round matchup with Victoria Azarenka, the former No. 1 player who has twice been a U.S. Open finalist.

Stephens served an ace to finally put away the 2-hour, 46-minute match against Kalinina, a Ukrainian qualifier who was playing her first Grand Slam tournament.

Seeded women who advanced on another day with the temperature topping 33 degrees 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. Past men’s champions Juan Martin del Potro, who beat Dennis Kudla of the U.S., and Stan Wawrinka won, as did 2017 runner-up Kevin Anderson, and No. 11 seed John Isner.

CBC | Sports News

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