*It was a fairly complicated day at the office, but 2-time defending US Open Champion, Serena Williams, was able to power her way through the typical Ashe Stadium wind and her Fed Cup teammate Varvara Lepchenko to earn a fourth round berth at the tournament.
“I can’ t believe I’m in the second week, it’s like a dream come true,” she said, with a touch of sarcasm. “I’ve been a casualty at Grand Slams this year, so I hope to keep hanging in there.”
Playing in a afternoon session inside Arthur Ashe, things started out pretty routinely for the champion. After holds of serve by both players for the first three games, Serena secured the break in the 4th game to go up 3-1. Lepchenko, however, broke right back with her deceiving big lefty forehand for 2-3 to get back on serve then held for 3 all – although facing several break points against her that Serena just couldn’t take advantage of. The top seed took it in stride, however, and held in her next service game for 4-3.
Lepchenko was playing above her normal level, as she had only managed to take 3 games off the 17-time Slam champion in previous matches, but she ultimately succumbed to Serena’s pressure and dropped her next service game for 3-5. Williams was able to summons her legendary big serve and easily closed out the set at 6-3.
Things got a little dicey from there for Serena, however, who’s looking to break her recent challenges with going deep in the Slams as has been her reputation. Of the 3 major tournaments she’s been in during the 2014 season, she hasn’t advanced past the 4th round. And in the second set, her trepidation was evident, because she wasn’t going after the ball as she normally would, her serves were hovering in the 80 and 90 mph range and she often had to face the wall for a few beats to calm her nerves.
She struggled to race out to a lead as she normally does after taking the first set off her opponents. Lepchenko wasn’t deflated by losing the first set and started the second as the steadier of the two. She was hanging with Serena on groundstokes and earning free points with an effective lefty serve. It was a tense trade off of games – with Serena raising the decibels of her grunts and celebrations of points won – up until the sixth, when Serena finally secured the break to go up 5-3, earning a chance to serve it out.
The challenge had spurred a raise in level from the champion and she got the biggest weapon in women’s tennis working again – her serve – to easily close the match.
The tournament favorite, Serena had only lost 5 games total in her previous two matches in week one, but her sometimes hitting partner was able to manage 6 games against her during their blustery match.
“I definitely had to fight to find my rhythm today, but she was playing pretty well … she was going for her shots,” she said. “She gives 100% on the court and … she’s an incredible fighter.”
In doubles action, the formidable Williams sisters easily took out Spaniards Garbine Muguruza and Carlo Suarez-Navarro on Sunday, 6-1, 6-0. It was Garbine Muguruza who knocked Serena out of this year’s French Open shockingly early, so the win over the duo was presumably sweet revenge. Both Venus and Serena were spot on with their volleys, their groundstrokes were consistent and the serves from both were hovering somewhere between 110 and 120.
With the number one doubles seeds, Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci, having been bounced early, it’s a safe bet to pencil the sisters in as the tournament winners if they continue with their current form.
(Soul of the US Open: Serena Williams Defeats Compatriot)