The 23-time Major champion Serena Williams has remained on the elusive 24th crown course, toppling another former US Open champion Sloane Stephens 2-6, 6-2, 6-3. Thus, Serena is through to the fourth round at her home Major for the 19th straight time, failing to achieve that only on her debut back in 1998!
Firing 12 aces, Williams lost serve twice in the opener and never after that, responding with three successful return games in sets two and three to move over the top, finishing the clash with 29 winners and 23 unforced errors.
Sloane, who has been miles away from best tennis for months now, did everything right in the opener before Serena found the range, starting to move and hit better to sail through sets two and three and enter the last 16. Competing against each other for the first time since Roland Garros 2015, Sloane had the upper hand in the opener following 11 winners and five unforced errors.
She grabbed a break in the third game after a loose forehand from Serena, confirming the break and creating more chances on the return in game five. Williams saved two break points to remain within one break deficit, squandering her chances in the next game and allowing Stephens to open a 5-2 gap with the second break in game seven.
The younger American held at love to wrap up the opener in style, hoping for more of the same in set number two. With no room for errors, Serena raised her level to match the rival's pace and overpower her. The more experienced player fended off maybe a crucial break point in game five, earning her first break a few minutes later when Sloane sprayed a forehand mistake.
Williams held at love to cement the advantage, sealing the set with a break at 15 at 5-2 and becoming the favorite ahead of the decider.
Serena Williams is through to her 19th straight US Open fourth round.
There, the six-time champion dropped six points behind the initial shot, mounting the pressure on the other side of the net and forcing Stephens to repeat that if she wanted to remain in contention.
Williams produced two comfortable holds in the early games to stay calm, forcing an error from the rival in game four to open a 3-1 lead. Serena maintained the advantage with easy holds in games five and seven, looking determined to bring the match home from there and emerging at the top with a break at 15 at 5-2.
Serena is trying to win the seventh US Open crown and the first since 2014, losing finals in the previous two years to Naomi Osaka and Bianca Andreescu.