US Open: Serena Williams shocks world number two Anett Kontaveit to keep fairytale alive

·3-min read

Serena Williams gave the celebrity-laden crowd in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Wednesday night a taste of her very best, pulling through in the third set to defeat world number two Anett Kontaveit 7-6 (4-7) 2-6 6-2.

The two-hour-and-27-minute victory sees Williams, who has announced her intention to evolve out of playing tennis after the US Open, move into the third round where she will face Australian world number 46 Ajla Tomjlanovic.

The opening set had Williams' power serving game on full display, winning 89 per cent (24-of-27) of the points when she landed her first serve fair, while producing six break point opportunities in her return game while only facing three.

She could only convert one of those break point chances, going up 5-4 with a chance to serve out the set, before handing the break straight back, leading to a tiebreaker.

Of the 11 tiebreaker points, only one went against the serve, with Williams seizing her opportunity to secure the opening frame.

As Williams' serve fell off in the second set – only winning 50 per cent of her successful first serves – Kontaveit fought her way back into the game, producing a clean set as she hit 13 winners to only three unforced errors, wrapping up the frame in a snappy 36 minutes to take it to a decider.

After holding serve to open the set, Williams then took a 2-0 lead as she was able to convert her third break point chance of the marathon 13-point game. That was followed with a 12-point game where Kontaveit was able to break back, as the 40-year-old American was visibly slowing down the longer the match dragged on.

As Williams' energy reserves began to run low, she tried to compensate with as many one-shot rallies as possible, going for sink-or-swim drives down the line and across the court – resulting in some spectacular winners, but also an increase in unforced errors.

It turned out to be the right strategy as Kontaveit continued to have trouble with Williams' power, giving up the late break again to go down 3-1 before the living legend consolidated her advantage with a hold-to-love, sending the crowd wild as they could see the finish line.

With Tiger Woods in her players' box cheering her on, Williams secured a point from a 19-shot rally as the atmosphere hit fever pitch, and despite the effort required in that point, she was able to repel another break point opportunity to hold and go 5-2 up.

Ultimately, the cauldron inside the sold-out stadium proved too much for Kontaveit, who could not find winners down the stretch. She posted three winners and 11 unforced errors in the final set, including a double-fault in her final service game as she was broken-to-love to secure the stunning result.

Data Slam: Serena continues to win the big matches

Williams has now won her last 10 grand slam matches against opponents ranked in the top-two, with her last loss coming to Justine Henin 15 years ago at the 2007 US Open.

She has also only lost three of her previous 104 US open matches when she has won the first set, and is 42-0 in the opening two rounds at Flushing Meadows.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Williams – 38/39

Kontaveit – 30/27

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Williams – 11/6

Kontaveit – 5/5

BREAK POINTS WON

Williams – 5/12

Kontaveit – 5/11