Serena trounces young rival to make final eight
Updated: 2013-09-03 07:18
By Reuters in New York (China Daily)
Serena Williams reacts to a shot during her match against Sloane Stephens on Sunday. Williams won 6-4, 6-1. Clive Brunskill / Getty Images / AFP
In an all-American showdown, defending champion Serena Williams overpowered Sloane Stephens 6-4, 6-1 on Sunday to reach the US Open quarterfinals and exact revenge for her shocking loss to her younger compatriot at the Australian Open.
Williams, who was upset by Stephens in the last eight at Melbourne Park, swatted the 20-year-old aside on Arthur Ashe Stadium's center court with a brilliant display of power tennis.
While Stephens has been touted as the next queen of US women's tennis, the 31-year-old Williams showed no signs of giving up her throne in a fourth-round encounter that had the feel of a championship decider.
"It definitely feels like a real big match," Williams said on-court to a crowd divided in its loyalties.
"How excited are we about the future of American tennis?" the world No 1 asked, drawing roars from the stands. "It definitely felt like something bigger."
Bidding to become the oldest US Open women's champion since tennis turned professional in 1968, Williams broke Stephens in the 10th game to end a riveting first set when a big forehand from the 15th seed sailed just wide.
The 16-time Grand Slam winner then raced through the second to set up a clash with 18th-seeded Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro, who took down eighth seed Angelique Kerber of Germany.
The quality and tension of the showdown between Williams and Stephens, one of the few in women's tennis capable of trading blows with equal ferocity, thrilled the crowd and left both players impressed.
"I thought I played good," Stephens said. "There were times I played some really good tennis. The second set got away from me a little bit, but overall I thought I played great."
Williams drew first blood by breaking serve to lead 4-2 before the heavy-hitting Stephens broke back with the help of two double faults.
Serving at 4-5 to stay in the set, Stephens fought off two set points before caving in.
Williams fended off a break point in the first game of the second set and from then on it was smooth sailing.
Williams, whose relationship with Stephens grew icy after their Australian Open encounter, kept herself charged up with fist pumps and shouts of "Yes!" and "C'mon!"
When she broke serve in the fourth game of the second set with an overhead at Stephen's feet that bounced up to hit her, Williams did not bother with a wave of apology and simply turned to walk away.
"At the end of the day it was a fourth round match (even though) it definitely had feelings more of a quarterfinal or a semifinal match," Williams said.
Stephens, who reached the Australian Open semifinals and quarterfinals at Wimbledon this year, said she was not bothered about being proclaimed heir apparent to Williams.
"I embrace it," she said. "Right now I'm carrying the little torch. But I'm OK with it. I embrace it for now."
(China Daily 09/03/2013 page23)