NEW YORK-World-renowned US tennis player, Serena Williams, battled her way through to a 6-2 6-4 victory over Russia’s Margarita Gasparyan in the second round of the US Open on Thursday, continuing her bid for a record-equaling 24th Grand Slam title. 

A dominant Williams sailed through the first set at Arthur Ashe Stadium, closing out the first game with one of seven aces on the match before breaking her unseeded opponent’s serve on the second game to take an early 2-0 lead. The 38-year-old American showed little sign of weakness, aside from a single double fault and a trio of unforced errors, as she finished off the set in just 35 minutes. 

Williams, a crowd favourite who this year must play without her legions of fans cheering her on, clawed her way back, managing to close out a lengthy 16-point game to hold her serve and retake the lead 5-4, psyching herself up shouting “Come on!” inside the empty stadium. “It wasn’t that frustrating,” Williams said after the match. The second-set setback “could help me know what not to do next time.”

American Sloane Stephens cruised into the third round with a 6-2 6-2 victory over Olga Govortsova. The 2017 champion struck 22 winners and four aces past her Belarusian opponent in the 65-minute match. Stephens will face compatriot Serena Williams in the next round. 

Spain’s 10th seed Garbine Muguruza was knocked out 7-5 6-3 by unranked Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova in the second round. Playing in her first tournament in over three years following a maternity break, Pironkova won an overwhelming 93% of her first serve points, breaking the twice Grand Slam champion three times. Ons Jabeur of Tunisia, seeded 27th, beat Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi 7-6(8) 6-0 to move into the third round. 

Victoria Azarenka, who was beaten in three sets by Aryna Sabalenka in the opening round at Flushing Meadows last year, swatted aside her Belarusian compatriot 6-1 6-3 in their second-round clash. Second seed Sofia Kenin moved into the third round with a 6-4 6-3 victory over Leylah Fernandez, smashing 19 winners past her Canadian opponent and breaking her three times without dropping serve. Karen Khachanov also advanced with a straight sets victory over fellow Russian Andrey Kuznetsov, winning 6-3 6-4 6-1 with an 83% success rate on his first serve. 

Amanda Anisimova, 19, fought back from a set down against 16-year-old Katrina Scott to advance to the third round with a 4-6 6-4 6-1 victory over her fellow American. Scott, making her Grand Slam debut, raced into a one-set lead on the back of her booming serve before Anisimova took control at 4-4 in the second set. The 22nd seed will next face Greek 15th seed Maria Sakkari. 

AUGER-ALIASSIME ROUTS MURRAY IN STRAIGHT SETS

Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime proved too strong for former champion Andy Murray, cutting short the Briton’s Grand Slam comeback at the U.S. Open with a breezy 6-2 6-3 6-4 victory in the second round on Thursday. Before the start of the match, the 20-year-old Auger-Aliassime had said he would look to be aggressive against his three-time Grand Slam winning opponent.  In the next round, Auger-Aliassime will meet either Frenchman Corentin Moutet or Briton Daniel Evans. 

Russian Daniil Medvedev, who finished runner-up to Rafa Nadal last year, cruised into the third round with a 6-3 6-2 6-4 victory over Australia’s Christopher O’Connell in a match that was played under the roof at Louis Armstrong Stadium. Hungarian Marton Fucsovics claimed nine of the last 10 games to beat Bulgaria’s 14th seeded Grigor Dimitrov 6-7(5) 7-6(4) 3-6 6-4 6-1 in a match that lasted four hours and 50 minutes on Court 12. 

Sixth seed Matteo Berrettini of Italy moved into the third round after beating Ugo Humbert 6-4 6-4 7-6(6), firing 17 aces and 48 winners past the Frenchman. In an all-Canadian clash, unseeded Vasek Pospisil came back from a set down to eliminate 25th seed Milos Raonic 6-7(1) 6-3 7-6(4) 6-3, dominating at the net where he racked up 27 points in a match lasting over three hours. 

Second seed Dominic Thiem served up a masterclass of ball striking and placement as he defeated Indian Sumit Nagal 6-3 6-3 6-2. The Austrian will next face 2014 champion Marin Cilic, who overcame Slovakia’s Norbert Gombos 6-3 1-6 7-6(2) 7-5. Australian Alex de Minaur produced a gutsy display to dispatch 2013 semi-finalist Richard Gasquet 6-4 6-3 6-7(6) 7-5. Russian Andrey Rublev, seeded 10th, hit 36 winners on the way to beating Frenchman Gregoire Barrere 6-2 6-4 7-6(4).