Friday, August 31, 2012
|(L-R) Serena Williams, USA, Sloane Stephens, USA, James Blake, USA, Venus Williams, USA and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, France all shown post-match on Day 4 of the 2012 US Open.|
American Sloane Stephens, the youngest player in the top 50 at age 19, defeated qualifier Tatjana Malek 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 in Louis Armstrong stadium Thursday in a three-set match filled with momentum shifts and heavily contrasting styles of play.
After a slow start in the second set, the easy power and athleticism of Stephens dealt with the variety of spins and shots coming off the Malek racquet to advance to the third round, tying her best showing at the USTA Billie Jean King Tennis Center.
Heading into his second round match against Marcel Granollers, James Blake knew it wouldn't be easy going up against the 6-foot-3 Spaniard. He'd lost to him before in the title match on the clay courts of Houston in 2008.
And so it was here, under the lights of Louis Armstrong stadium, where Blake's best tennis came through again, as he defeated Granollers 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 to advance to the third round here for the first time since 2010. Already waiting for him in the next round is a tall order, literally, as big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic will face off against him.
Serena Williams advanced a few steps in from the baseline and celebrated the point, bent over two balled fists and screaming “Come on!”
During her 6-2, 6-4 win Thursday over Spain’s Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez in the second round of the US Open, many members of the crowd echoed this cry, trying to push the three-time Open winner on an afternoon when she fought through unforced errors – 24 in all -- inside Arthur Ashe Stadium.
In a huge upset, and a major head-scratcher, 23-year-old Martin Klizan of the Slovak Republic, ranked No. 52 in the world, took out the No. 5 seed Jo-Wilfred Tsonga of France, 6-4, 1-6, 6-1, 6-3.
Tsonga looked out of sorts for most of the match, enough for many to wonder about his health, to try to explain a lackluster performances at such a significant venue.
The big serving Tsonga showed less firepower throughout the match than his unheralded opponent, who has had most of his success on the pro tour on clay court Challenger events.
Klizan, more aggressive and determined throughout, had 5 aces to Tsonga’s 4, and hit 32 winners to Tsonga’s 28.
The second-round blockbuster between sixth seed Angelique Kerber and two-time champion Venus Williams was hyped as one of the matches to watch at the US Open. With a 12:19 a.m. finish on Arthur Ashe Stadium, the matchup lived up to its billing, as Kerber outlasted Williams 6-2, 5-7, 7-5 in a gripping battle.
The clash began with five straight breaks of serve, before the left-handed Kerber ended the streak in the sixth game to lead 4-2. Williams was unable to find a rhythm, hitting 36 percent of her first serves into play, committing five double faults and winning two of 14 points on second serve to lose the first set in 31 minutes. The American dropped all four of her service games.
Post match Venus said, "Today I felt American for the first time at the U.S. Open," Venus said. "So I've waited my whole career to have this moment, and here it is.
"I was fighting her today and, unfortunately, myself," Venus said afterward. "I couldn't put more than two points together without making a few errors. I didn't help myself out today."
"When you're ready, you're ready," Venus said of Roddick. "If I was out there and people were killing me, maybe time to hang it up. But I just have to find the answer within myself. I'm playing my game and eventually [the shots] will land."
Photos By: Getty Images