Serena Williams’ hopes of completing a calendar slam hangs on the outcome of another stanza of the greatest sister act in modern tennis history as the women’s top seed prepares to face her older sibling Venus in the quarter-finals of the US Open.
Both Williams sisters made a work of their respective round-of-16 opponents and fellow Americans, Ana Kontaveit and Madison Keys, to set up the 27th re-enactment of the Venus and Serena match-up – the younger of them leads that series 15-11.
Against 20-year-old Keys on Sunday, Serena – after needing a decider to outwit her opponents in the 2nd and third rounds – summoned her impenetrable self to seal it 6-3 6-3.
Earlier in the day, 35-year-old Venus thrashed 18-year-old Kontaveit, 6-2 6-1 in just 50 minutes to return to the last-8 of the US Open for the first-time in five years.
“I’ve played some tough matches so far, and I feel like that helped me get a rhythm today,” the 2-time champion, who was pushed to three sets by her opponents in the first two rounds, said. “I played so well in the last match, so I was able to stay comfortable. But I think experience helped a lot, and I was able to play in the moment.”
Serena sprayed 18 winners, 6 unforced errors and claimed 70% of points while returning serves to crack No. 19 seed Keys’ US open plot to match the world No, 1’s power on the serve and forehand.
“Playing Madison, she’s such a good player, and such a powerful player, she knows what to do and knows how to win big matches, so my only chance was to start out fast,” Williams told ESPN after the victory.
“I’m so proud that I was able to serve a lot better, and I had to, because Madison has a great serve, so I knew I wouldn’t have too many opportunities to break. I was like, ‘Serena, it’s now or never, you’ve got to get that serve together.’”
Tuesday’s quarter-final will be the 14th time the Williams sisters have met in a Grand Slam, Serena also leads their head-to-head in that frame, 8-5.
“The only difference is we’re a lot older. I have to really be ready for that; I have to play like I did today, or better,” Williams said, on facing her older sister. On her bid to win a record seventh US Open, the 33-year-old added: “I don’t feel any pressure.”
Elsewhere, on Sunday, Kristina Mladenovic saw off No, 13 seed Ekaterina Makarova 7-6 4-6 6-1 in a nighshift match.
“I have absolutely no words to describe my feeling right now,” the Frenchwoman, who is through to her first quarter-finals in Flushing Meadows, said. “I just want to thank you guys for staying so late.”
Earlier on Sunday, 25th seed Eugenie Bouchard was forced to pull out from her singles match against Italy’s Roberta Vinci due to a concussion, according to US Open Tournament Director David Brewer.
Djokovic and Cilic roll on
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic outlasted Roberto Bautista Augut 6-3 4-6 6-4 6-3 in a thrilling match which lasted for three hours in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The rampant Serb – succeeding in 31 out of 45 net approaches – blasted 42 winners, 7 of them aces, to overcome his hard fighting opponent and set up a quarter-final duel with yet another Spaniard, 18th seed Feliciano Lopez.
He is 5-0 against Lopez, who will be 34 later this month. The 18th seed saw off Rafael Nadal conqueror Fabio Fognini 6-3 7-6(7-5) 6-1.
Sunday’s win was Djokovic’s 204th in a major, which sees him surpass Pete Sampras on the all-time Grand Slam victory list.
The top seed has now reached the last-8 of the last 17 tournaments he has entered, dating back to the 2014 Cincinnati Open and is into the quarter-final of a Grand Slam for the 26th consecutive time.
Defending champion Marin Cilic posted a 6-3 2-6 7-6 6-1 succcess over one of the four Frenchmen to advance into the fourth round of this year’s U.S. Open, No. 27 seed Jeremy Chardy.
Cilic will face Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who eliminated his compatriot Bennoit Paire, 6-4 6-3 6-4.