US Open, 2nd round – Serena Williams qualified in the 3rd round after her victory against Anett Kontaveit

Serena Williams pushes back the deadline, once again. And how ! The American dismissed the second player in the world, Anett Kontaveit, (7-6, 2-6, 6-2) in 2h27 of play. The player with 23 Grand Slams was sometimes grandiose, sometimes in difficulty, but often brilliant to get this victory, deserved in view of the content of the match. She therefore qualifies for the third round of the US Open, where she will find Alja Tomljanovic to try, once again, to prolong the dream.

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That the first round was disputed. If one statistic were to sum it up, it would be this: 48 points won by Williams and… 47 by Kontaveit. At first a little less in the legs than her evening opponent, the American quietly gained momentum, under the encouragement of Arthur-Ashe and the gaze of the audience of stars present in the stands.

With a winning setback from the boss: Serena’s match point

Three sets, three scenarios

Helped by her serve when she showed the slightest sign of fatigue, or when Kontaveit rebelled, Williams ruled the roost in that first act. It was she who broke first to lead 5-4. Quickly overtaken by the Estonian patrol, not impressed by the 29,959 spectators won over to the cause of their champion, Williams had to be patient. It was finally on the tie-break that the public favorite snatched the first round.

And it cost him dearly. The six-time winner of the tournament left feathers in the first set. So much so that she lost her serve three times in quick succession. Despite a little last stand, specific to the champion that she is, to register two games, she let the second set slip away. The goal ? Keep gasoline in the engine for the third and final run.

Tiger Woods supporting Serena Williams during the match against Anett Kontaveit in the 2nd round of the US Open 2022

Credit: Getty Images

Another match then began. Williams unleashed the beasts to the delight of the New York public. Spike Lee, Tiger Woods, Seal and others enjoyed it. The strategy was simple, hit hard and take risks to shorten the rallies to win in two, three or even four shots. The return on investment was not long in coming. Williams snatched Kontaveit’s serve twice: at 2-0, then at 3-1. Just before, she had conceded the break after a marathon game at 2-0. A game where she led 40-0 … It remained without consequence.

Kontaveit did what she could. But the more the match progressed, the more she had to deal with a teasing public. It is a reality, the public of Arthur-Ashe helped Williams well in the final stretch. In advance, the American only had to control to conclude. At 4-2, she was still hooked on her commitment, but a magnificent volley of forehand allowed her to conclude. She then took white Kontaveit’s serve to wrap it up.

As in its finest hours: Serena’s “Federer” forehand volley

And now ?

Retirement is not for now for Serena. What should be remembered from this match is that she was able to hold off the world number two over two and a half hours. Admittedly, Anett Kontaveit is living a nightmare Grand Slam season, but she released a very good copy against the “Queen”.

The challenge now will be in the ability of the champion to recover. Because we have seen it well: when an exchange was prolonged or a game called for more sustained strikes to win, Williams tended to drag his paw in the minute that followed. Especially since she still has a double to play with her sister in less than 24 hours. At first glance, Tomljanovic seems like a more affordable opponent than Kontaveit. The mental is still there, remains to be seen if the physical will follow.

Serena Williams

Credit: Getty Images

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