Serena Williams ‘one of the favourites’ for US Open title declares former champion
Serena Williams has put herself forward as one of the favourites to win the US Open by backing up her first win with victory over world number two Anett Kontaveit according to seven-time Major champion Mats Wilander.
The 23-time Slam winner took on the Estonian second seed to open the third night session of 2022 on Arthur Ashe Stadium, defeating her 7-6 (7-4), 2-6, 6-2 in front of an ecstatic crowd.
1988 US Open champion Wilander was stunned by the result, and has adjusted his estimations of what Serena can do in the tournament accordingly.
“I have not heard a crowd that loud,” he told Eurosport. “[Serena] beat the number two player in the world and that’s a ranking that means one of the most consistent players, I am stunned.
“But when she gets going, of course she can because she’s Serena and she hits the ball so well. The movement is much better than I ever could’ve expected and the serve is coming back. She is a threat now.
“I am surprised that she can keep it up but we’ve seen Serena do this at Grand Slam tournaments when she hasn’t had a lot of matches. She wins a match, then two, then the tables flip completely and now she is one of the favourites.”
Since winning her 23rd Slam title at the 2017 Australian Open and giving birth to daughter Olympia, Serena has reached four Major finals, two each at Wimbledon and the US Open, losing all four in straight sets. Her first Major triumph came back in 1999, aged 17, when she defeated Martina Hingis at the US Open.
Wilander believes there are things we have not seen yet from Serena, and spoke on how her champion attitude approaches this sort of occasion.
“I think this is a sign that there is more to come, she believes there is more to come,” he continued. “That’s how you win 23 Slams I guess. She internalises the problem in front of her and uses the crowd. She becomes Serena and she has that eye of the tiger, amazing.
“I’d say it has to do with being relaxed and then in a strange way when you are playing someone like Kontaveit who hits the ball so well, I think Serena has to hit the ball slightly sooner. Serena knows how to read the game and how to anticipate. I am very impressed.”
Serena faces world number 46 Ajla Tomljanovic next for a place in the fourth round.
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