Serena Williams makes no mistake this time against Maria Sakkari

15th seed books a place in her 16th US Open quarter-final

 Serena Williams  returns the ball during her fourth-round match against Maria Sakkari of Greece at the US Open. Photograph:  Al Bello/Getty Images

Serena Williams returns the ball during her fourth-round match against Maria Sakkari of Greece at the US Open. Photograph: Al Bello/Getty Images

 

Serena Williams ensured history did not repeat itself as she battled to a fourth-round victory over Maria Sakkari to reach the US Open quarter-finals for the 16th time.

In a compelling contest at Arthur Ashe Stadium, Williams recovered from a break down in the deciding set to defeat 15th seed Sakkari 6-3 6-7 (6) 6-3.

Williams lost to Sakkari on the same courts in the Western & Southern Open last week from a set and a break up and went into the year’s second Grand Slam with major question marks about her form.

Discussing her recent tendency to let opponents off the hook, Williams said: “It’s like dating a guy that you know sucks. That’s literally what I keep doing out here. It’s like I have got to get rid of this guy. It just makes no sense.”

That guy was heading in through the restaurant door when Williams lost the second set on a tie-break and made a poor start to the decider, just as she had last week, but this time he was sent straight home again.

Williams said: “Of course I thought about it but it’s a completely different match and a completely different moment. I just kept fighting. She was doing so well, she was being so aggressive, and I knew I needed to do the same thing.”

Williams played a fine first set but Sakkari, one of the best athletes in women’s tennis, stuck with her during an intense and physical second set.

The third seed let out a piercing scream after a return from Sakkari hit the top of the net and dropped dead to give her a set point at 6-5 but she saved it, and a second to force a tie-break.

Williams made a poor start, losing the first four points, but a winning return on the fifth point gave her a foothold and she saved two more set points in convincing fashion.

However, the doubts that have crept into Williams’s formidable psyche resurfaced with two errors that gave Sakkari the set.

Last week she fell apart in the deciding set, narrowly avoiding the dreaded bagel, and it seemed like the same thing might happen when Sakkari broke serve for the first time in the opening game.

But trying to finally equal Margaret Court’s tally of Slam singles titles is the reason Williams is still out there competing, and she summoned all her physical and mental resolve to claw her way back.

Sakkari was now the one fighting for parity and a netted forehand at 3-4 gave Williams the crucial advantage – and this time she held onto it.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.