WTA Cincinnati: Serena Williams battles past Arantxa Rus. Konta and Pegula advance

Tennis - Serena needed almost three hours to dismiss the Dutch player in the deciding tie break

by Jovica Ilic
WTA Cincinnati: Serena Williams battles past Arantxa Rus. Konta and Pegula advance

World no. 15 and the 8th seed Johanna Konta is through to the third round in Cincinnati, beating Kirsten Flipkens 6-2, 6-0 in 63 minutes. It was the fifth win for the Briton in six encounters against the Belgian, producing one of the career-best performances on serve to drop six points and keep the pressure on the other side of the net.

Kirsten was nowhere near that pace, losing almost 60% of the points behind the initial shot and giving serve away five times from 11 opportunities offered to Johanna. Settling into an excellent rhythm on serve, Konta had the upper hand in every segment, earning breaks in games five and seven to clinch the opener 6-2.

The Belgian hit rock bottom in set number two, taking only seven points and allowing Konta to serve a bagel that sent her into the next round. A qualifier Jessica Pegula took down Amanda Anisimova 7-5, 6-2 in an hour and 19 minutes, taking over half of the return points and clinching six breaks.

Amanda came back from a break down thrice in the opener to level the score at 5-5, only to lose the last eight points and give the set to her opponent. After seven breaks in the opener, we saw two in the second and Pegula grabbed them both in games five and seven, sealing the deal on serve at 5-2 to advance into the last 16.

The 3rd seed and a former champion Serena Williams had to stay on the court for two hours and 48 minutes against Arantxa Rus, prevailing 7-6, 3-6, 7-6. The American didn't play well, suffering four breaks but finding the way to take both tie breaks and cross the finish line first.

Both players served well in the opener, with Arantxa fending off a break chance in game four to reach a tie break, moving 6-5 in front there with a service winner. Serena saved a set point with a service winner, forcing an error from the Dutch player at 7-6 to claim the opener in an hour.

They traded breaks early in the second set and it was Rus who secured another one at 2-1 following a forehand error from Serena that sent her 3-1 up.

Serena Williams led 5-2 in the decider before Arantxa Rus came back to prolong clash.

Serving for the set at 5-3, Arantxa sealed it with a backhand crosscourt winner, sending the clash into a decider and gathering momentum.

In the first game of the final set, Williams repelled four break chances to avoid an early deficit, moving 2-0 in front with a break a few minutes later. Three comfortable holds pushed Serena 5-2 ahead, with the American serving for the triumph in the ninth game.

Ready to fight until the end, Rus broke back at love, leveling the score at 5-5 and adding more drama and excitement. Rattling off the fourth straight game, the Dutch player moved 6-5 in front with a break, serving for the victory but failing to push herself over the top.

Serena broke back in the very last moment and had the upper hand in the tie break, winning it 7-0 with a forehand winner to survive and move through.

Wta Cincinnati Serena Williams Arantxa Rus