Serena, Venus to clash for 30th time as Cornet shrugs off US Open
SERENA and Venus Williams set up a 30th career meeting yesterday (Thailand time) as the US Open reeled from a sexism row sparked when a player changed her shirt on court.
Six-time champion Serena eased into tonight’s third-round encounter against her sister with a 6-2 6-2 win over German world No 101 Carina Witthoeft on the back of 30 winners and 13 aces.
Venus, the 2000 and 2001 champion, made the third round for the 17th time with a 6-4 7-5 victory over Camila Giorgi of Italy.
Tonight’s match will be the earliest the sisters have met at a Slam since the 1998 Australian Open in what was also their first ever clash. It will be their sixth faceoff in New York.
“Friday will be incredibly hard,” said Serena before jokingly hitting back at Venus’s claim that when they last met at a Slam in the final of the 2017 Australian Open her sister had an advantage as it was “two against one.”
That was a reference to Serena being in the early stages of pregnancy with her daughter Olympia.
“I guess I had a little advantage but it’s going to be hard for me on Friday,” said 36year-old Serena.
Since Venus won their first ever clash in Australia, Serena, bidding for a recordequalling 24th Grand Slam title, has built up an advantage over the last two decades, enjoying a 17- 12 head-to-head superiority.
“It’s a tough match to have so early in the tournament. We would have liked to have played later but it is what it is. It’s not the end of the world,” added Serena.
Defending champion and third seed Sloane Stephens also made the third round with a marathon three-set win over Ukraine qualifier Anhelina Kalinina.
She will next face two-time Australian Open champion and former world number one Victoria Azarenka, who was among the first players to condemn the United States Tennis Association (USTA) for handing French player Alize Cornet a code violation for changing her shirt on court the day before.
The incident sparked an immediate storm over sexism.
The Belarusian said the USTA displayed double standards for sanctioning Cornet while male players routinely remove their shirts courtside when the heat and humidity bite.
“If I would say my true feelings, it would be bleeped out, because it was ridiculous,” said Azarenka.
The USTA admitted they were wrong to hand Cornet a warning for slipping off her shirt on court after realising she had put the garment on back-to-front during a heat-break.
Cornet said she was stunned that the furore had caused so much controversy and was happy to accept the USTA's apology.
“I think it's very fair from them to apologise. The umpire was probably overwhelmed by the situation,” she said.
Nadal at top of his game
In the men’s draw, world No 1 and defending champion Rafael Nadal steamed into the third round with an easy win over Canada’s Vasek Pospisil.
The Spaniard, spared the worst of the heat thanks to his late-night start, sped past Pospisil 6-3 6-4 6-2.
“The conditions are tough,” said Nadal, who happily changed top without fear of being punished by officials.
“It was important to start very well with that break. To win in straight sets is always very positive, especially in these conditions. It’s almost midnight, very happy about the victory.”
Ex- champions Stan Wawrinka and Juan Martin del Potro also advanced.
However, 2012 winner Andy Murray, like Wawrinka back at Flushing Meadows after missing last year through injury, was bounced by Fernando Verdasco of Spain.
Murray, the 2012 US Open winner, who was playing his first Grand Slam in 14 months, is still fighting to find full fitness after hip surgery in January.
“Some of the tennis I played today was some of the best I’ve played since I came back,” said the Scot.
Rafael Nadal changes tops yesterday – unlike female players, the men can do this without worrying about officials punishing them.