U.S. Open tennis: Venus Williams survives, advances

By The Sports Xchange  |  Sept. 1, 2017 at 9:47 PM
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Venus Williams became an aunt earlier Friday and then left Arthur Ashe Stadium a winner later in the day by delivering a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Maria Sakkari of Greece to advance to the fourth round of the U.S. Open in New York.

Williams' sister, Serena, gave birth to a baby girl not long before she took the court. But Venus was all business during the match while posting her 74th victory at the U.S. Open, snapping a tie for fourth place with legendary Steffi Graf.

The ninth-seeded American has reached the second week at a major for the seventh consecutive time -- the longest active streak among women players -- and once again relished the atmosphere in New York.

"I'm playing at home, I've got a lot to accomplish here, and I'm happy to get the win," Williams said afterward.

Williams next faces Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro, who posted a 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 victory over Russian Ekaterina Makarova.

"She plays a similar game to my opponent today," Williams said of Suarez Navarro. "She's feisty. I know I have to come out, play well, have (the crowd) behind me and get a win."

Third-seeded Garbine Muguruza of Spain also moved on as she rolled past 31st-seeded Slovak Magdalena Rybarikova 6-1, 6-1.

The two-time Wimbledon champion hasn't lost a set and has dropped just nine games. She is now one of three women in the mix to grab the World No. 1 ranking -- the others being Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic and Elina Svitolina of Ukraine. Eight women entered the tournament with a chance.

Muguruza could be tested in the fourth round when she faces another two-time Wimbledon champion in Petra Kvitova.

The 13th-seeded Czech defeated 18th-seeded Caroline Garcia 6-0, 6-4 as she continues her inspirational comeback from a knife attack over eight months ago. Her career was briefly threatened as she dealt with major injuries to her left hand and arm -- her dominant tennis-hitting hand.

She returned to the tour just three-plus months ago.

"Sometimes I do feel a little bit more normal than before, especially on the court and around players and people, around tennis, which I'm very grateful that I can be part of it again," Kvitova said afterward. "Life is still a little bit strange, but it's getting better. Hopefully one day it will be better.

"I do feel much better and closer to my top level. I think that I really played great today. I'm still not there, for sure. I think still my hand is not 100 percent ready, so I do feel hopefully that I have space to improve."

Muguruza will be the first Top 10 opponent Kvitova has faced since her return.

"It's nice to play someone who won a grand slam this year," Kvitova said. "I'm really looking forward for the big stage and for that match."

In addition, 16th-seeded Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia notched a 6-2, 6-3 win over Croatia's Donna Vekic.

American Sloane Stephens advanced with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Australian Ashleigh Barty, while 30th-seeded Julia Goerges recorded a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Serbian Aleksandra Krunic.

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