Serena sails past Stephens as Radwanska falls
Originally published on: 02/09/13 00:00
Billed as the “popcorn match” at Flushing Meadows on Sunday, Williams defeated the pretender to her crown 6-4 6-1 to book her place in the quarter-finals.
Stephens had upset the world No.1 in the Australian Open quarter-finals earlier in the season, but Williams had her revenge with a powerful performance.
After an evenly-matched opening exchange, Williams broke for a 4-2 lead, only for Stephens to respond immediately. However, with Stephens serving to stay in the set at 4-5, Williams broke for a second time to snatch the opening set.
The defending champion tightened her grip on the match when she broke for a 3-1 lead in the second set before streaking away to victory.
"Going into the match I definitely wanted to be focused the whole time," Williams said. "That's all I wanted to do. Whether I was going to win or lose, I just wanted to play my game and do well today.
"It was definitely a high quality match out there. We both came out today to play. It was a fourth round match, but it definitely had feelings of a quarter-final or a semi-final match."
Stephens, who has reached the fourth round (or better) at all four majors this year, was left to rue 29 unforced errors and just 15 winners.
"There were times I played some really good tennis, though the second set got away from me a little bit," Stephens said. "But overall I thought I played well. She's No.1 in the world for a reason. It didn't go how I wanted, but I competed well and played well, and that's all you can do."
When asked what it would take for 20-year-old Stephens, ranked No.16, to reach the next level, Williams replied: "I don't think she has to work on anything," she said, "I think she's at the next level."
Williams will face Carla Suarez Navarro in the quarter-finals after the Spaniard upset eighth seed Angelique Kerber 6-4 3-6 7-6(3), while third seed Agnieszka Radwanska was also a casualty on Sunday as she was ousted by Russian Ekaterina Makarova 6-4 6-4. There was no such trouble for Li Na, who powered past Jelena Jankovic 6-3 6-0 to reach the last eight.