U.S. Open: Serena waiting for true test
Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 6, 2009
NEW YORK ó Serena Williams is still waiting for her first true test of this U.S. Open.
The defending champion’s fourth-round match was competitive for all of four games Sunday, before Williams took 10 in a row to beat No. 22-seeded Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia 6-2, 6-0.
Williams, who is seeded second at the Open, has reached the quarterfinals at 11 of the past 12 major tournaments and won the title at three of the past four.
“I just want to keep this level and just stay focused,” Williams said.
With the score 2-all against Hantuchova, Williams hit three aces to hold for a 3-2 lead ó and she wouldn’t lose a game the rest of the way.
She has won all eight sets she’s played this year at Flushing Meadows.
“I tried to relax,” Williams said after improving to 8-1 against Hantuchova over their careers. “Sometimes I’m such a perfectionist, I put too much stress on myself. I was like, ‘Serena, relax!”‘
She finished with eight aces and a 27-9 advantage in winners in Sunday’s first match in Arthur Ashe Stadium. Her older sister Venus, the 2000-01 U.S. Open champion, was scheduled to face 2005 champion Kim Clijsters in a fourth-round match later in the day.
In other early action Sunday, No. 9 Gilles Simon of France retired because of a knee injury while trailing No. 24 Juan Carlos Ferrero 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (5), 1-0.
“Sometimes, I don’t know why, I just feel a big pain,” said Simon, who added that he’s had problems with the knee since the French Open in May.
Among others slated to play: No. 3 Rafael Nadal against No. 32 Nicolas Almagro, and No. 2 Andy Murray against 195th-ranked Taylor Dent of Newport Beach, Calif.
No. 1 Dinara Safina was upset in the third round Saturday night, meaning No. 2 Williams is the highest-ranked woman left in the field. Safina will remain atop the rankings, though, even if the younger Williams were to win a second consecutive U.S. Open title and fourth overall.
“I didn’t even see that result until this morning, so I haven’t thought much about it,” Williams said. “I’m not focused on who wins and who loses. I’m just focused on hopefully what I can do.”