With a dominant victory over Sweden’s Johanna Larsson on Saturday, the iconic Serena Williams of USA has surpassed the Grand Slam match-win mark of the legendary Martina Navratilova. With the 307th win in her pocket, Serena is now level with another living legend the great Roger Federer of Switzerland. If she wins her round-of-sixteen match against Kazakhstan’s Yaroslava Shvedova, Serena will go down in the annals of tennis history as the one player, male or female to have recorded the highest number of singles Grand-Slam triumphs. In some of the other gripping matches on Saturday, Andy Murray overcame a rusty start to beat Italy’s Paolo Lorenzi; comeback man Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina outplayed 11th seeded Spaniard David Ferrer; Australian Nick Kyrgios retired midway through his match against Ukraine’s Illya Marchenko; women’s 4th and 5th seeds Radwanska & Halep sailed into the fourth round, Japan’s Kei Nishikori defeated Frenchman Nicolas Mahut and men’s no.3 seed Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka struggled against GBR’s Daniel Evans before coming through in five sets.
Nearly 20 years on the WTA circuit, Serena Williams is still a big force to reckon with. A long-time world no.1, the American still gives shivers to those playing against her. If she has lost to them at times, it was more often because of her own lack of consistency or low percentage of points won on the first serve. Another factor in Serena losing her matches in the last two seasons is attributable to her right shoulder injury that has aggravated since she won this year’s Wimbledon. Lately, Serena’s penchant for breaking Steffi Graf’s record of 186 consecutive weeks as women’s world no.1 has come under threat with second-seeded Angelique Kerber and fourth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska fast closing on her. However, at this year’s US Open, Serena has been doing great by scoring majority of points on her first service. On Saturday, Sweden’s Johanna Larsson couldn’t match the vintage Serena, who allowed Larsson just 3 games in their third-round match. The one-hour match ended 6-2, 6-1 in Serena’s favor and with that, she went past Navratilova. The 307th match-win in Grand Slam tournaments brought her at level with Swiss maestro Roger Federer and there is little doubt that Kazakhstan’s Yaroslava Shvedova could stop Serena from reaching her 308th victory on Monday. For Serena, there will be no better place than the US Open to make history because it was here that she recorded her first Grand Slam victory in 1999. If she wins this year’s US Open, she will get past Graf and come within one victory of leveling Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 Grand Slam wins.
Another player, who could be making history at the US Open, is GBR’s world no.2 Andy Murray. He has reached the finals of the Australian Open, French Open, the Wimbledon in 2016 and if repeats that feat in Flushing Meadows, he will be just the fourth man to reach all four Grand Slam finals in a calendar year. On Saturday, however, Murray struggled in first two sets of his third-round match against Italian Paolo Lorenzi before controlling himself to win at 7-6, 5-7, 6-2, 6-3. The Wimbledon champion and Rio gold medalist Murray is also a serious contender for 2016 US Open men’s championship.
Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro is definitely on the comeback trail. The Rio silver medalist had to begin his US Open campaign as a wild card but del Potro is not the kind of wild-card, whose triumph over a seeded player will have raised eyebrows. In the last few season; the Argentine has lost plenty of time due to his multiple wrist surgeries but he showed at Rio that he was back to tennis for good. He won the US Open in 2009 as a 20 year old and on Friday, he proved his return of form with a 7-6, 6-2, 6-3 victory over 11th seeded David Ferrer of Spain.
Australian Nick Kyrgios bowed out of the US Open by retiring midway through his match against Ukrainian Illya Marchenko with the scores reading 4-6. 6-4, 6-1 in Marchenko’s favor. In another match, Japan’s Kei Nishikori reached the fourth round with a 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 victory over Frenchman Nicolas Mahut but Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka had to struggle against Daniel Evans of Britain before coming through in five sets at 4–6, 6–3, 6–7, 7–6, 6–2. Austrian 8th seed Dominic Thiem also entered the fourth round with a 1–6, 6–4, 6–4, 7–5 victory over Spain’s Pablo Carenno Busta.
In women’s draw, Romania’s no.5 seed Simona Halep was given a scare by Hungarian Timea Babos before Halep survived with a 6-1, 2-6, 6-4 win. No.4 seeded Agnieszka Radwanska also entered fourth round with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia. Other women singles player entering the fourth round on Saturday were; Spain’s birthday girl Carla Suarez Navarro, who defeated Russian Elena Vesnina 6-4, 6-3; Croatian Ana Konjuh, a 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 winner over USA’s Varvara Lepchenko; Czech Karolina Pliskova, who defeated Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-2, 6-4 and USA’s Venus Williams, who beat Germany’s Laura Siegemund 6-1, 6-2.
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