SERENA Williams equaled her most-lopsided victory ever in 30 professional meetings with sister Venus, beating her 6-1 6-2 on Friday night in the third round of the U.S. Open.
Serena shook off an early ankle injury to win seven straight games and seize control in perhaps her most dominant performance since giving birth to her a daughter a year ago Saturday.
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Serena, whose 23 grand slam titles include six US Opens, stretched her record over her elder sister to 18-12, blasting winners off both wings and pounding 10 aces on Friday (Saturday AEST) as she reached the round of 16 for the 17th straight time at Flushing Meadows.
The sisters’ earliest meeting in a Grand Slam tournament in 20 years was over early, with Venus unable to do anything to blunt Serena’s power, even after the crowd tried desperately to get behind her early in the second set.
They hadn’t played this early in a grand slam since Venus won in the second round of the 1998 Australian Open in their first meeting as pros, and only once over the next two decades had either won so decisively, when Serena won by the same score in a semifinal victory in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2013.
Williams next faces Estonian Kaia Kanepi, who defeated Sweden’s Rebecca Peterson 6-3 7-6 (7-3).
Earlier, US Open champion Sloane Stephens kept alive her bid for back-to-back titles in New York, defeating former world No.1 Victoria Azarenka 6-3 6-4 in a gritty match to set up a fourth-round showdown with Elise Mertens.
The third-seeded American was the sharper of the pair at the outset on Friday, firing nine winners and fending off Azarenka’s lone break-point opportunity to take the first set in a little over half an hour.
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But two-time Australian Open champion Azarenka raised her game in the second set, battling back from a 3-1 deficit to take a 4-3 lead, much to the chagrin of the partisan New York crowd.
A break in the action to close the roof on Arthur Ashe court appeared to bolster Stephens, who tightened up her defence and broke the big-serving Belarusian for a fifth time with a forehand winner to ward off the comeback and go through.
“When things got tough I hung in there,” Stephens, who is the highest remaining seed in the women’s draw, said in an on-court interview.
“You guys helped a lot,” she told the crowd.
A dejected Azarenka said she was disappointed with aspects of her performance.
“At this stage, it’s a matter of one, two points, and today I just need to cut down my unforced errors,” Azarenka told reporters.
“Those unforced errors that come out, right now they are costing me matches.”
Azarenka committed 27 unforced errors, while Stephens had 17.
“The fight was good throughout,” Stephens told reporters.
She acknowledged she was a “little rocky in the second set” but was satisfied to have “played a solid match”.
Stephens will look for redemption when she faces Mertens on Sunday after losing to the Belgian at the Cincinnati Masters earlier this month.
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