Maria Sharapova beats 18-year-old Kenin to reach fourth round

Venus Williams also through at US Open as sister Serena gives birth to a baby girl

Maria Sharapova celebrates beating Sofia Kenin to reach the last-16 of the US Open. Photograph: Don Emmert/AFP

Maria Sharapova celebrates beating Sofia Kenin to reach the last-16 of the US Open. Photograph: Don Emmert/AFP

 

Maria Sharapova fought off the challenge of American teenager Sofia Kenin to reach the fourth round of the US Open.

After three-set struggles against Simona Halep and Timea Babos, this was slightly more comfortable for Sharapova, although she endured a 66-minute first set before completing a 7-5 6-2 victory over her 18-year-old opponent.

The five-time grand slam champion, who next plays 16th seed Anastasija Sevastova, said: “We’ve never faced off against each other before, she’s up and coming, she had nothing to lose and that’s always dangerous. I’m really glad I came through.

“I didn’t see the ball too well at the beginning, made a lot of unforced errors. But ultimately what matters is I won and I get the chance to go to the practice court tomorrow and regroup.”

Both players entered the tournament through wild cards, and their combined ranking of 285 must have been the highest seen on Arthur Ashe Stadium for a long time.

A penny for the thoughts of Caroline Wozniacki, who hit out at tournament organisers on Wednesday for their favourable scheduling of Sharapova following her doping ban.

Playing her third match on Flushing Meadows’ centre court and second in the prime-time night session, Sharapova did not have the crowd with her this time as they got behind Kenin.

The Russian-born teenager had never won a grand slam match before this week and, unless she turns professional immediately, will have to forfeit her $144,000 in prize money.

Kenin was outmatched physically but fought doggedly to stay with Sharapova and a slew of unforced errors from the Russian saw her pegged back from 4-1 to 4-4.

As she had against Babos, Sharapova struggled to produce the free-swinging tennis that stunned Halep, but she played two fine points to clinch the opening set.

There was a blip in the second set when Sharapova double-faulted to go from 3-0 to 3-2 but she then reeled off another three games to book her spot in the last 16.

Women’s round-up

Elsewhere Petra Kvitova produced her best grand slam form since her career-threatening hand injury to set up a fourth-round clash with US Open favourite Garbine Muguruza.

Kvitova has understandably struggled on the North American hard courts this summer as she continues to come to terms with what happened to her last December, when she was stabbed by an intruder at her home in the Czech Republic.

Having gone into Wimbledon improbably as one of the favourites and lost in the second round, Kvitova arrived in New York with little expectation on her shoulders.

And it appears to have benefited the 13th seed, who is yet to drop a set despite a tough draw, and defeated Caroline Garcia 6-0 6-4 in round three.

Kvitova said: “Sometimes I do feel a little bit more normal than before, especially on the court and around players and people, around tennis, which I’m very grateful that I can be part of it again.

Venus Williams progressed to the US Open fourth round with victory over Maria Sakkari of Greece. Photograph: Timothy A. Clary/Getty
Venus Williams progressed to the US Open fourth round with victory over Maria Sakkari of Greece. Photograph: Timothy A. Clary/Getty

“Life is still a little bit strange, but it’s getting better. Hopefully one day it will be better.”

Kvitova has beaten Muguruza in two of their three previous meetings, but the Wimbledon champion is looking in ominous form.

Muguruza has not yet come close to dropping a set and defeated Magdalena Rybarikova 6-1 6-1 on Friday in a repeat of their Wimbledon semi-final.

Muguruza’s victory means the race to be world number one at the end of tournament has narrowed to three, with Simona Halep and Venus Williams eliminated.

Williams made it through to the fourth round for the 15th time in 19 attempts with a 6-3 6-4 victory over Maria Sakkari despite serving a whole game of double faults early in the second set.

The ninth seed took to the court shortly after reports emerged of her sister Serena giving birth to a baby girl.

Venus skillfully avoided questions about the news in her post-match press conference and insisted she had not been distracted.

She said: “I’m a real professional, because I have been doing this for a long time, so when the first ball starts, it’s a ton of excitement out there. This is the US Open.”

Venus revealed she had spoken to Serena ahead of this match and that the pair had talked about tennis.

Next up for Venus on Sunday is a clash with Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro, who defeated in-form Ekaterina Makarova 6-1 3-6 6-3.

American Sloane Stephens has hit form on the hard courts this summer after coming back from a year out with a foot injury and she kept her run going with a 6-2 6-4 victory over Ashleigh Barty.

Stephens now plays another form player in big-hitting German Julia Goerges, who has strolled through the draw and defeated Aleksandra Krunic 6-3 6-3.

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