Fri, Aug 31, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Williams sisters set up meeting

AFP, NEW YORK

Andy Murray takes a break while playing Fernando Verdasco during the US Open in New York City on Wednesday.

Photo: AFP

Serena and Venus Williams on Wednesday set up a 30th career meeting as the US Open reeled from a sexism row sparked when a player changed her shirt on court.

Six-time champion Serena eased into today’s third-round encounter against her sister with a 6-2, 6-2 win over German Carina Witthoeft on the back of 30 winners and 13 aces.

Venus made the third round for the 17th time with a 6-4, 7-5 victory over Camila Giorgi of Italy.

Today’s match is to be the earliest the sisters have met at a Slam since the 1998 Australian Open in what was also their first-ever clash.

Defending champion and third seed Sloane Stephens also made the third round with a marathon 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 win over Ukraine qualifier Anhelina Kalinina.

Stephens is to next face two-time Australian Open champion and former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka.

The crushing effect of the heat and humidity took its toll on the American, but a 10-minute heat break before the third set proved a timely boost.

“I just sat on the floor, changed my outfit, had two bites of sushi and a slushie,” Stephens said.

Azarenka was among the first players to condemn the US Tennis Association (USTA) for handing French player Alize Cornet a code violation for changing her shirt on court on Tuesday.

The Belarusian said the USTA displayed double standards for sanctioning Cornet, while male players routinely remove their shirts.

“If I would say my true feelings, it would be bleeped out, because it was ridiculous,” Azarenka said.

The USTA said they were wrong to hand Cornet a warning for slipping off her shirt on court after realizing she had put the garment on backward.

Cornet said she was stunned at the controversy and was happy to accept the USTA’s apology.

“I think it’s very fair from them to apologize to me. I think the umpire was probably overwhelmed by the situation,” Cornet said, adding that French Tennis Federation president Bernard Giudicelli’s ban on Serena Williams’ catsuit was much worse.

In the doubles, Taiwan’s Chan Hao-ching and her Chinese partner, Yang Zhaoxuan, defeated their US opponents 7-6 (7-5), 6-2 to move into the second round.

The victory made Chan the second Taiwanese to advance in the women’s doubles, following Hsieh Su-wei, who with her partner Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus reached the second round earlier that day.

In the men’s competition, world No. 1 and defending champion Rafael Nadal steamed into the third round with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 straight-sets win over Vasek Pospisil.

Former champions Stan Wawrinka and Juan Martin del Potro also advanced, while 2012 winner Andy Murray was bounced by Fernando Verdasco.

Wawrinka survived searing mid-day heat and Ugo Humbert.

“I knew it would be a difficult match,” said Wawrinka, who was pleased to find himself feeling fit after prevailing 7-6 (7/5), 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 in 3 hours, 21 minutes.

Meanwhile, Murray, the 2012 US Open winner, is still fighting to find full fitness after hip surgery in January.

He gave himself a mixed review after a 7-5, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 loss to Spain’s Fernando Verdasco, whose only win over Murray in 14 prior meetings was at the 2009 Australian Open.

“I think some of the tennis I played today was some of the best I’ve played since I had the surgery or since I came back,” Murray said.

Stefanos Tsitsipas, the Greek 20-year-old who came in with high expectations after beating four top 10 players en route to the Toronto Masters final, said the heat took a mental as well as physical toll.

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