Monday Jan 30, 2023
Monday Jan 30, 2023

Serena beats No. 2 seed Kontaveit


Nepalnews
AP
2022 Sep 01, 19:27, NEW YORK
Serena Williams, of the United States, right, greets Anett Kontaveit, of Estonia, after defeating Kontaveit during the second round of the U.S. Open tennis championships, Wednesday. (AP Photo)

Serena Williams can call it “evolving” or “retiring” or whatever she wants. And she can be coy about whether or not this U.S. Open will actually mark the end of her playing days. Those 23 Grand Slam titles earned that right.

If she keeps playing like this, who knows how long this farewell will last?

No matter what happens once her trip to Flushing Meadows is over, here is what is important to know after Wednesday night: The 40-year-old Williams is still around, she’s still capable of terrific tennis, she’s still winning — and, like the adoring spectators whose roars filled Arthur Ashe Stadium again — she’s ready for more.

Williams eliminated No. 2 seed Anett Kontaveit 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-2 in the U.S. Open’s second round to ensure that she will play at least one more singles match at what she’s hinted will be the last tournament of her illustrious career.

“There’s still a little left in me,” Williams said with a smile during her on-court interview, then acknowledged during her post-match news conference: ”These moments are clearly fleeting.”

After beating 80th-ranked Danka Kovinic in straight sets Monday, then collecting her 23rd victory in her past 25 matches against someone ranked Nos. 1 or 2 against Kontaveit on Wednesday, the six-time champion at Flushing Meadows will play Friday for a spot in the fourth round.

Her opponent will be Ajla Tomljanovic, a 29-year-old Australian who is ranked 46th. They’ve never met, but Tomljanovic, who said she considers herself a Williams fan, figures she knows what to anticipate from the American — and from those in the seats.

Serena Williams, of the United States, returns a shot to Anett Kontaveit, of Estonia, during the second round of the U.S. Open tennis championships, Wednesday. (AP Photo)
Serena Williams, of the United States, returns a shot to Anett Kontaveit, of Estonia, during the second round of the U.S. Open tennis championships, Wednesday. (AP Photo)

Making Williams’ potential path possibly simpler if she can get past Tomljanovic: 2021 U.S. Open runner-up Leylah Fernandez and 2021 French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova both lost.

On Wednesday, Williams hit serves at up to 119 mph, stayed with Kontaveit during lengthy exchanges of big swings from the baselines and conjured up some of her trademark brilliance when it was needed most.

After pulling out a tight first set, then faltering in the second, Williams headed to the locker room for a bathroom break before the third.

Something had to give, someone had to blink.

When they resumed, it was Williams who lifted her level and emerged as the better player.

Just as she’s done so many times, on so many stages, with so much at stake.

As strident a competitor as tennis, or any sport, has seen, as rightly self-confident in her abilities as any athlete, Williams was not about to think of this whole exercise as merely a celebration of her career.

She came to New York wanting to win, of course.

Wearing the same glittery crystal-encrusted top and diamond-accented sneakers — replete with solid gold shoelace tags and the word “Queen” on the right one, “Mama” on the left — that she sported Monday, Williams was ready for prime time.

The match began with Kontaveit grabbing the first five points, Williams the next five. And on they went, back and forth. Kontaveit’s mistakes were cheered — even faults, drawing an admonishment for the crowd from chair umpire Alison Hughes about making noise between serves.

Serena Williams, of the United States, warms up before playing against Anett Kontaveit, of Estonia, during the second round of the U.S. Open tennis championships, Wednesday. (AP Photo)
Serena Williams, of the United States, warms up before playing against Anett Kontaveit, of Estonia, during the second round of the U.S. Open tennis championships, Wednesday. (AP Photo)

To Kontaveit’s credit, she raced to a 3-0 edge in the second with 10 winners and zero unforced errors.

In the third, after a swinging forehand volley winner put Williams a game from victory, she raised both arms, then clenched her left fist.

One game, and five minutes later, it was over — and her stay at the U.S. Open could proceed.

Asked whether she’s a title contender, Williams answered: “I can not think that far. I’m having fun and I’m enjoying it.”

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Serena Williams Beats No. 2 seed Kontaveit evolving retiring US Open New York
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