The 23-time Major champion Serena Williams is still chasing the 24th Major crown in New York, toppling another former US Open champion Sloane Stephens 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 on Saturday. Serena is through into the last 16 at home Major for the 19th straight time, failing to achieve that only on her debut back in 1998!
Firing 12 aces, Williams suffered two breaks in the opener, responding with three successful return games in sets two and three to move over the top, adding 29 winners and 23 unforced errors to her tally. Sloane 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 remain on the title course.
Competing against each other for the first time since Roland Garros 2015, Stephens had the upper hand in the opener, landing 11 winners and five unforced errors. She grabbed a break in the third game after a loose forehand from Serena, confirming the advantage and creating more chances on the return at 3-1.
Williams saved two break points to remain within one break deficit, squandering her opportunities in the next game and allowing Stephens to open a 5-2 gap with the second break. The younger American held at love to wrap up the set in style, hoping for more of the same in set number two.
With no room for errors, Serena raised her level to overpower the compatriot and gain momentum. The more experienced player fended off a crucial break point at 2-2, earning her first break a few minutes later when Sloane sprayed a forehand mistake.
Serena Williams defeated Sloane Stephens in three sets at the US Open.
Williams held at love to cement the advantage and delivered another break at 5-2 to level the overall score. In the final set, the six-time champion dropped six points on serve, mounting the pressure on the other side of the net with two comfortable holds in the early stages.
Serena grabbed a break in the fourth game and maintained the advantage with easy holds in games five and seven, sealing the deal with a break at 5-2. After the encounter, Sloane Stephens praised Serena Williams, backing her to chase that 24th Major title.
"I thought we played a good match. Serena raised her level and started serving a bit better after the opener. I don't think I did anything wrong, trying to stay in the match as best I could. After such a long break, Lexington and Cincinnati weren't what I had hoped for.
Now, I have to build on these two US Open wins and keep going into Europe. Serena is one of the best servers in history and it wasn't easy to read her initial shot. I gave my best to extend rallies and keep the points on my racquet.
I'm sure it's difficult for her to deal with chasing the 24th Major, but we all hope she can release the pressure and win it eventually," Sloane Stephen said.