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Sloane Stephens, Serena Williams arrange a rematch at U.S. Open

No.1 Williams and No.16 Stephens, the top two U.S. women, win in third round to set up replay of Australian quarterfinal won by Stephens.

August 30, 2013|By Diane Pucin
  • Sloane Stephens serves during her third-round victory over Jamie Hampton at the U.S. Open on Friday.
Sloane Stephens serves during her third-round victory over Jamie Hampton… (David Goldman / Associated…)

NEW YORK — Sloane Stephens did her part.

She took all the space away from fellow American Jamie Hampton, commanded the court with her ferocious forehand and never let down for a moment.

Stephens needed only 63 minutes to beat the 23rd-seeded Hampton, 6-1, 6-3, on Friday and reach the fourth round at the U.S. Open for the first time.

Serena Williams' chance to do her part didn't arrive until much later Friday night and into Saturday morning. She didn't get on court to start warming up until 11:35 p.m. EDT, after 2001 U.S. Open champ Lleyton Hewitt took 4 hours 3 minutes to upset sixth-seeded Juan Martin del Potro, the 2009 champion, 6-4, 5-7, 3-6, 7-6 (2), 6-1, in the second round.

Williams, the defending champion, quickly finished off 78th-ranked Yaroslava Shvedova, 6-3, 6-1, in a third-round match that ended at 1:06 a.m. and set up a much-anticipated fourth-round clash against Stephens.

"It's gonna be tough," said Williams, 31. "Sloane's playing so well. Regardless, there will be one American in the quarterfinals. I'm real proud of Sloane. It's going to be a great match."

Stephens, an on-the-rise 20-year-old ranked 16th and seeded 15th here, beat Williams in the quarterfinals at the Australian Open, the year's first major.

Williams battled ankle and back injuries in that three-set loss, but it still rankled the world's No. 1 player, who has lost to only two other players this year — second-seeded Victoria Azarenka, and Sabine Lisicki in an upset at Wimbledon.

"It's something I think everyone is looking forward to," Stephens said after her match and before Williams'. "I think it will be epic. I'm really looking forward to it. We'll see what happens."

Hampton, 23, had nothing but praise for Stephens.

"She was moving well side to side," Hampton said. "I had her pinned once in the corner and wanted to hit a drop shot and make her move forward. Obviously it didn't work out too well for me."

Even so, Hampton said she felt Stephens had played "much more" aggressive tennis at Wimbledon. She declined to say whom she would favor in a Williams-Stephens match Sunday.

Defending men's champion Andy Murray started out as if in a rush to finish off Leonardo Mayer of Argentina. Then he misplaced his momentum in the third set before recovering to win, 7-5, 6-1, 3-6, 6-1. Murray will play another Mayer, Florian, of Germany, who beat American Donald Young, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4, in the third round.

Top-seeded Novak Djokovic did rush on and off Arthur Ashe Stadium in his second-round match, needing only 1 hour, 51 minutes to finish off Germany's Benjamin Becker, 7-6 (2), 6-2, 6-2.

Djokovic, who had played his first match at night, said the day session court conditions were tricky. Wind was gusting and Djokovic said he had to make adjustments.

"You have to be alert," he said. "The wind was not consistent. It was changing directions all the time. . . . I feel it was a big test for me today. It was a challenge and I needed to overcome it."

Tim Smyczek, a 25-year-old wild-card entrant from Milwaukee, is now into the third round after he beat Russia's Alex Bogomolov, Jr., 3-6, 7-6 (6), 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.

Smyczek, who had never been past the second round of a Grand Slam tournament, said he wasn't feeling disbelief. "It just took me a long time," said Smyczek, who next plays 43rd-ranked Marcel Granollers of Spain. Granollers is more comfortable on clay courts. Smyczek, ranked 109th, prefers hard courts.

"So far, so good," said Smyczek, who isn't talkative, and isn't one to head out on the town. "If I'm able to stay awake until the take-out food gets to my room, then I'll eat some," he said.

Twitter: @mepucin

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