Three of US Open ‘supermoms’—Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka and Tsvetana Pironkova – advanced to the third round of the Grand Slam on Thursday.
The 38-year-old Williams, who is chasing her 24th single Grand Slam title, powered to a 6-2, 6-4 win over 117th-ranked Russian Margarita Gasparyan to make her 20th straight third round, or better, at the US Open.
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The American will take on 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens in the third round.
While the result was expected of Williams, Azarenka and Pironkova were tasked with a tougher challenge of taking on seeded opponents. Azarenka upset fellow Belarussian and the No 5 seed Aryna Sabalenka 6-1, 6-3 after a vintage performance.
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Having won last week’s Western & Southern Open, this was 31-year-old Azarenka’s seventh straight win.
She’ll face the winner of the second-round match between American Sachia Vickery and Poland’s Iga Swiatek, which was suspended due to rain on Thursday night with Vickery leading by a set.
Meanwhile, Pironkova, playing her first tournament in three years, shocked 10th seed Garbine Muguruza 7-5, 6-3.
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The Bulgarian had been away from the WTA Tour for three years following the birth of her son Alexander. She had used protected ranking to get into the US Open but has once against proved to be a dangerous floater in the draw.
The 32-year-old Pironkova, who reached a career high of 31 in 2010, has 21 wins over top-20 players and has even upset Venus Williams on Wimbledon’s grass during her prime.
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“Coming here (US Open) my first tournament was a bit risky,” she said after the match.
“But at the same time, I was really excited and very motivated to play well on this big stage. And I think that motivation kept me pushing…I’m not gonna hide, I didn’t expect in my first tournament to play so well. But it’s welcome! That is what I came back for—for these matches.”
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She will next play Croatia’s Donna Vekic, who is the 18th seed at the Open.
Auger Aliassime dashes Murray’s hopes
Young gun Felix Auger Aliassime dashed Andy Murray’s hopes of a grand comeback at the Grand Slams, beating him 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 in the second round on Thursday.
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Murray, the 2012 champion, is playing his first major since the 2019 Australian Open and marked his return with an incredible 4-6, 4-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(4), 6-4 win over Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka in the opening round.
Though Murray battled back from two sets down, he spent four hours and 38 minutes on the court. The 33-year-old Brit, who has undergone two hip surgeries since 2017, looked physically drained in his contest against the No 15 seed Auger Aliassime.
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Men’s second round
2-Dominic Thiem d Sumit Nagal 6-3, 6-3, 6-2
15-Felix Auger Aliassime d Andy Murray’s 6-2, 6-3, 6-4
Vasek Pospisil d 25-Milos Raonic 6-7 (1), 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-3
3-Daniil Medvedev d Christopher O’Connell 6-3, 6-2, 6-4
6-Matteo Berrettini d Ugo Humbert 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (6)
Women’s second round
2-Sofia Kenin d Leylah Fernandez 6-4, 6-3
3-Serena Williams d Margarita Gasparyan 6-2, 6-4
26-Sloane Stephens d Olga Govortsova 6-2, 6-2
Victoria Azarenka d 5-Aryna Sabalenka 6-1, 6-3
Tsvetana Pironkova d 10-Garbine Muguruza 7-5, 6-3
Sorana Cirstea d 9-Johanna Konta 2-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4