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Serena Williams beats Sloane Stephens at U.S. Open

“I generally have been playing better defense this year and moving better. Just trying to be faster,” says Serena Williams, who beats fellow American Sloane Stephens 6-4, 6-1 in Round 3.

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“I generally have been playing better defense this year and moving better. Just trying to be faster,” says Serena Williams, who beats fellow American Sloane Stephens 6-4, 6-1 in Round 3.

NEW YORK — For a 40-minute stretch in the fourth round of the U.S. Open, the top two American women put on quite a show.

Both hit serves topping 115 mph. Both whipped groundstrokes to the corners. Both covered a lot of ground, extending points with leg-churning defense. Both showed an occasional sign of nerves, reflecting what a big deal the match was, in part because 15th seed Sloane Stephens is one of only three players to beat No. 1 Serena Williams this year.

But at 4-all in the first set Sunday, Williams took over. Winning eight of the last nine games, defending champion Williams, 31, returned to the quarterfinals by beating Stephens, 20, 6-4, 6-1.

"When you give her that opportunity to take that step forward, she definitely makes her move," Stephens said. "Unfortunately, (Sunday) she made her move. I just couldn't get back in."

Still, all in all, the match was a compelling and, within individual points, rather evenly played.

"I definitely think it was a high-quality match," said Williams, 64-4 with eight titles this year. "We both came out to play."

She advanced to face No. 18 Carla Suarez Navarro, who defeated No. 8 Angelique Kerber 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-3).

In the men's third round, defending champ Andy Murray struggled with his breathing on a muggy afternoon, but otherwise the third seed faced little trouble in a 7-6 (7-2), 6-2, 6-2 victory over 47th-ranked Florian Mayer.

Top seed Novak Djokovic had an easy time with 95th-ranked Joao Sousa, winning 6-0, 6-2, 6-2. He faces 43rd-ranked Marcel Granollers, who beat the last U.S. man in the field, 109th-ranked wild-card entry Tim Smyczek, 4-6, 6-4, 0-6, 6-3, 7-5.

Former No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt, who won the U.S. Open in 2001 and Wimbledon in 2002, reached the fourth round in New York for the first time since 2006 by defeating 102nd-ranked Evgeny Donskoy 6-3, 7-6 (7-5), 3-6, 6-1.

Williams was the oldest player to reach the fourth round, Stephens — who grew up idolizing Williams — the youngest. Stephens' career highlight to date is a semifinal run at this year's Australian Open, in which she stunned Williams in the quarterfinals.

The tenor of their relationship changed after that. Williams unfollowed Stephens on Twitter and deleted her as a contact on Blackberry Messenger, things Stephens took as personal affronts and publicized in ESPN the Magazine in May. Stephens later said she hadn't understood those comments would be publicly aired and insisted she had nothing but admiration for Williams.

For her part, Williams has maintained public praise for Stephens. "Sloane is such a great player," Williams said in her on-court interview. "How excited are we for the future of American tennis, right?"

Sunday's scores, 6C

Men

Fourth round Quarterfinals Semifinals Championship Semifinals Quarterfinals Fourth round
1. N. Djokovic 8. R. Gasquet
Tuesday, ESPN2/ESPN Today, Ch. 10/CBSSN
M. Granollers 10. M. Raonic
Thursday, ESPN2/ESPN Wednesday, ESPN2
21. M. Youzhny 18. J. Tipsarevic
Tuesday, ESPN2/ESPN Today, Ch. 10/CBSSN
Hewitt 4. D. Ferrer
Saturday, noon, Ch. 10 Sept. 9, 5, Ch. 10 Saturday, noon, Ch. 10
3. A. Murray 7. R. Federer
Tuesday, ESPN2/ESPN Today, Ch. 10/CBSSN
D. Istomin 19. T. Robredo
Thursday, ESPN2/ESPN Wednesday, ESPN2
9. S. Wawrinka 22. T. Kohlschreiber
Tuesday, ESPN2/ESPN Today, ESPN2
5. T. Berdych 2. R. Nadal


Women

Fourth round Quarterfinals Semifinals Championship Semifinals Quarterfinals Fourth round
1. S. Williams C. Giorgi
Williams Today, Ch. 10/CBSSN
15. S. Stephens 10. R. Vinci
Tuesday, ESPN2/ESPN Wednesday, ESPN2
18. C. Suarez Navarro 21. S. Halep
Suarez Navarro Today, Ch. 10/CBSSN
8. A. Kerber F. Pennetta
Friday, 12:30, Ch. 10 Sunday, 4:30, Ch. 10 Friday, 12:30, Ch. 10
3. A. Radwanska A. Riske
Markarova Today, Ch. 10/CBSSN
24. E. Markarova D. Hantuchova
Tuesday, ESPN2/ESPN Wednesday, ESPN2
9. J. Jankovic 13. A. Ivanovic
Li Today, Ch. 10/CBSSN
5. N. Li 2. V. Azarenka

Serena Williams beats Sloane Stephens at U.S. Open 09/01/13 [Last modified: Sunday, September 1, 2013 11:53pm]

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