US Open sees Williams sibling get the better of Russian

Wednesday, August 28th, 2019 00:00 |
Serena routs Sharapova.

New York

Serena Williams overpowered Maria Sharapova 6-1, 6-1 in a first-round matchup between two of tennis’ biggest stars at the 2019 US Open. 

Williams, who is seeking her 24th Grand Slam title, advances to the second round, where she will face 17-year-old wild-card entry Caty McNally, a fellow American.

Williams’ victory over Sharapova took just 59 minutes, and it’s her 19th consecutive win against Sharapova dating to 2005. During that span, Sharapova has won only three sets.

In her first US Open match since the controversial 2018 championship match against Naomi Osaka, Williams played arguably her best match of the year. Williams, 37, hit 16 winners to Sharapova’s six.

After withdrawing from the Western & Southern Open earlier this month because of back spasms, Williams moved on the court with ease and was able to up the aggressiveness on her shots when Sharapova threatened. 

“Yeah, my back feels good,” Williams said after her win. “I think I was able to zone in, especially down break points, not letting [Sharapova] in the match because she’s the kind of player that keeps going.

Even towards the end, she just wants to keep fighting.” Sharapova, 32, has missed most of the 2019 season with injuries, most notably a right shoulder injury that necessitated a surgical procedure back in February.

Sharapova’s serve, which once was regarded as one of the best on the women’s tour, has been negatively impacted by her shoulder issues. 

Sharapova finished the match without winning a point on her second serve (0 for 10). 

In the second set, with Williams serving at 2-1, Sharapova earned her first break points of the match at 15-40. Sharapova hit some of her best shots of the match during this time but she wasn’t able to break Williams, who saved both points and won the next point with a forehand winner. In hindsight, that might have been Sharapova’s only chance during the match to pull even with Williams. 

In the loss, Sharapova didn’t capitalise on any of her five break points, while Williams saved five of her six.                   - AFP

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