US Open 2022: Serena Williams stuns Anett Kontaveit to reach third round, delay retirement

Serena Williams’ farewell tour took on a different complexion as she stunned second seed Anett Kontaveit to reach the US Open third round.

It was a sparkling performance from the diamond-clad veteran, who showed her best tennis since reaching the semi-finals of the Australian Open last January, winning 7-6(4) 2-6 6-2.

The end of the dream – a record-breaking 24th Grand Slam singles title at her finals tournament – is still a long way off, but this performance showed it could just be a possibility.

Tiger Woods was among the famous faces cheering on Williams, who revealed in the Fashion Essay announcing her “evolution” away from tennis that the great golfer had given her advice on whether she should have one last crack.

It now looks like a smart move and Williams, who next meets Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic, clearly believes she has more to offer.

“There’s no hurry here,” she said. “I love this audience. I still have a little bit left. We will see. I’m a pretty good player; I can do that best. I love challenges and face the challenge.

“I haven’t played many games, but I’ve trained really well. The last few games it’s been coming together. After losing the second set I thought, ‘I have to do my best because this could be it.’

“I just see it as a bonus. I have nothing to lose. I’ve had an X on my back since 1999. I really enjoy just getting out there and enjoying it.”

There wasn’t quite the same electricity as Monday night and there were a few more empty courts as the tournament once again played out a Monday in which Williams was declared the greatest of all time before exiting the court.

Like Danka Kovinic before her, Kontaveit had to keep busy on the court, the second seed but most of all the opening act on tennis’s biggest stage.

The support from the stands was, of course, virtually exclusively for Williams. The crowd may have turned out more hopeful than expected, but it quickly became clear that the 40-year-old was here to play.

Williams had moved well against Kovinic and so it was here, while her shots showed conviction and her serve, the best in women’s football history, fired.

Arthur Ashe Stadium erupted when Williams broke serve to take a 5-4 lead and although she failed to finish the set she kept her nerve in the tie-break.

Williams looks to the sky in her thrilling victory over Anett Kontaveit

(AP)

The celebration was an understatement as the job was only half done and Kontaveit, who despite her ranking has struggled since contracting Covid-19 earlier this year, reacted well at the start of the second set, ramping up her aggression and going on to level the match.

That made the opening stages of the deciding game crucial and to the delight of the crowd it was Williams who banged it up again and showed her best tennis of the game to take a 4-1 lead.

And, a worrying sign for the rest of the field, Williams was ice cold about the win, celebrating in a low-key manner that suggests she feels she still has a long way to go.

Elsewhere, Maria Sakkari, who was beaten by Emma Raducanu in the semifinals 12 months ago, was also eliminated, losing to young Chinese left-hander Wang Xiyu 3-6 7-5 7-5.

American stars Madison Keys and Coco Gauff produced a tasty third-round tie while fifth seed Ons Jabeur clinched a 7-5, 6-2 win over Elizabeth Mandlik, daughter of four-time Grand Slam singles champion Hana Mandlikova , gained.

https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/tennis/serena-williams-us-open-2022-result-kontaveit-b2157322.html US Open 2022: Serena Williams stuns Anett Kontaveit to reach third round, delay retirement

Fry Electronics Team

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