American stars Serena Williams and Sofia Kenin both reached the fourth round at the 2020 US Open after defeating their respective opponents on Saturday.
In an absorbing third round match, 23-time Grand Slam winner Williams rallied to defeat 2017 US Open winner Sloane Stephens 2-6, 6-2, 6-2 in one hour and 43 minutes, while second seed Kenin also faced a tough challenge in a straight sets win over Ons Jabeur of Tunisia.
Stephens went up a double break to carve out a 5-2 lead and served out the opening set in just 38 minutes. But Williams began to raise her game and served much better in the second set, lifting her first-serve percentage from 50 to 76 percent. By breaking twice, Williams won the second set to level the match.
Then in the third set, Williams was rarely troubled by her rival en route to the victory.
Williams said: “I tried to stay calm and be more serene after the loss of the first set. I knew it was important for me just to keep trying, just to keep going.”
“Right now I’m really focused on the US Open, and nothing else I can think about right now,” said Williams, who won six of her 23 Grand Slam singles titles at the US Open.
She will take on 15th-seeded Maria Sakkari of Greece in the last 16, who stunned Williams at last month’s Western & Southern Open.
“Serena is Serena,” Sakkari said after advancing earlier Saturday by beating 19-year-old American Amanda Anisimova 6-3, 6-1. “You have to come up with some great tennis. Otherwise there is no chance against her.”
In another third round clash, Australian Open champion Kenin had to weather a barrage of 35 winners coming from Jabeur’s racquet, and stayed solid to break the Tunisian’s serve three times, fighting her way to a 7-6 (4), 6-3 victory.
In a rematch of their 2020 Australian Open quarterfinal, the second seed recovered from a 4-2 deficit in the opening set to overcome Jabeur. It’s the first time Kenin has reached the fourth round at the US Open.
There were also third round wins for Belgian star Elise Mertens, Belarussian veteran Victoria Azarenka and France’s Alize Cornet.
In the men’s singles, both second seed Dominic Thiem of Austria and third seed Daniil Medvedev of Russia advanced into the fourth round. Thiem conquered former US Open champion Marin Cilic of Croatia 6-2, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, while Medvedev made light work of local player Jeffrey Wolf, winning 6-3, 6-3, 6-2.
Medvedev will next face fellow American Frances Tiafoe, and Thiem will take on Canada’s rising star Felix Auger-Aliassime.
Elsewhere, sixth seed Matteo Berrettini of Italy, tenth seed Andrey Rublev of Russia and Australia’s Alex De Minaur all won their third round matches.