Serena Williams
Serena Williams

American star Serena Williams and Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin both advanced into the third round of the US Open after making light work of their respective opponents on Thursday.

Williams defeated Russia’s Margarita Gasparyan 6-2, 6-4 while Kenin needed an hour and 22 minutes to maneuver past Canadian youngster Leylah Fernandez 6-4, 6-3.

38-year-old Williams closed out the first set with ease but had trouble in the second when she was broken twice by Gasparyan.

“I feel like every day I’m on a new journey, and in this tournament in particular and this year,” Williams said. “So I feel really good. I feel like I’m on that journey and I’m going in the right direction.”

The six-time US Open champion will next face compatriot and 2017 champion Sloane Stephens.

Kenin, who won her first Grand Slam title at this year’s Australian Open, did not face a break point in her match against 17-year-old Fernandez before nailing her convincing win.

The win puts Kenin into the third round at the US Open for the fourth year in a row. The American has come up short against top players like Maria Sharapova (2017), Karolina Pliskova (2018) and Madison Keys (2019) at this stage in the past.

This year, world number four Kenin counts herself among the top players, but the challenge won’t get any easier as Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur, one of the most in-form players of 2020, awaits in the next round.

Elsewhere, Belarus’ fifth seed Aryna Sabalenka lost to compatriot Victoria Azarenka 6-1, 6-3, ninth seed Johanna Konta of Britain was stunned by Romania’s Sorana Cirstea 2-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4 and tenth seed Garbine Muguruza from Spain lost to Bulgaria’s Tsvetana Pironkova 7-5, 6-3.

In men’s draw, second seed Dominic Thiem of Austria celebrated his 27th birthday by notching a comfortable 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 second-round victory over India’s Sumit Nagal.

“I was playing well today,” said Thiem. “I had a good plan for the match. He’s very dangerous when he can dictate with his forehand. I was exactly trying to avoid that. He also has very, very fast legs. I was trying to play my fastest tennis to keep him on the backhand, to not let him dictate with the forehand.”

The Austrian will now challenge 2014 champion Marin Cilic of Croatia in third round. Thiem has a 2-0 lead in their head-to-head series.

“He’s one of the big champions of the last decade, one of the very few active players, who won a Grand Slam tournament here in New York,” Thiem said of Cilic. “Even though he’s not on the top of his game, he’s always dangerous for a deep run in these big tournaments. He’s not a guy I want to face in the third round as he’s a former champion. On a good day, he can beat anybody.”

Third seed and last year’s runner-up Daniil Medvedev of Russia and sixth seed Matteo Berrettini of Italy also made it to the third round.

In the women’s doubles, Xu Yifan from China and America’s Nicole Melichar reached the second round after edging past their opponents in straight sets.

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