SERENA INTO THE QUARTERS OF THE OPEN


By Craig Gabriel

NEW YORK: There was just so much attention surrounding the match between Serena Williams and Sloane Stephens. Their US Open meeting was their third this year and the head-to-head was standing at 1-1. The first time they met was in Brisbane, Australia and Serena won in straight sets, then at the Australian Open, with Serena nursing a bad ankle and troublesome back, it was Stephens who took the match.

This time at the Open it was a clash between the two highest ranked Americans in the world – the Queen and the princess.

Serena advanced into the quarterfinals with a 6-4, 6-1 score in one hour 27 minutes and she will play Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro.

Serena was up for this match big time. She never takes anyone lightly but she knows how talented and good a player Stephens is so there was no taking chances. There was no show of emotion except at the end of the first set when she had a quiet clenched fist pump.

“Going into the match I definitely wanted to be focused the whole time,” said Serena. “That’s all I wanted to do.  Whether I was going to win or lose, I just wanted to play my game and do well. I definitely think it was a high‑quality match.  I don’t think either of us had an overwhelming amount of unforced errors.  But I think, you know, we both came out today to play.”

In the second set Serena broke serve in the fourth game and lead 3-1 and when something like that happens after a close first set, the opponent can have a tendency to get somewhat dispirited. Serena then served to go up 4-1 and she was playing relaxed tennis; as the French would say, “fluide”. Serena was bombing in her first serves and Stephens was thrown off her own game and she was not able to recover.

Stephens said: “I thought she did a lot of things really well. She’s No. 1 in the world for a reason. All in all I thought she played great.”

All aspects of Serena’s game worked, from defence to attack except for two the back-to-back doubles faults which took a few people by surprise and which she casually said “I have to stop doing that”. She moved well and she was fast.

“I wasn’t thinking about, I have to get a lot of balls back or I have to do this. I was just thinking about playing and that’s all I thought about,” said Serena. “I think more than anything I would say, you know, just consistency and getting up for every match.  Doesn’t matter if it’s a Grand Slam or if it’s a small tournament, just really wanting it.”