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Sharapova, Venus Advance As Serena Puts To Bed

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

After playing in three-setters against Simona Halep and Timea Babos, the encounter against Kenin was slightly more comfortable for Sharapova.

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.

Russian-born teenager Kenin, 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 large amount of unforced errors from the Russian saw her pegged back from 4-1 to 4-4.

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

Venus Williams made it through to the fourth round of the US Open 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.

Garbine Muguruza at the 2017 edition of the US Open

Garbiñe Muguruza entered this year’s US Open with a 2-4 career record in Flushing and having never advanced past the second round.

On Friday, she eclipsed her career US Open win total by claiming her third consecutive victory to advance to the fourth round. And she is not just winning matches; she is annihilating her opponents, transforming herself in one short week from US Open underachiever to US Open favorite.

In a rematch of their Wimbledon semifinal, Muguruza again made short work of No. 31 seed Magdalena Rybarikova by an identical scoreline of 6-1, 6-1 – a result that moved her into the second week of the US Open for the first time, also reaffirms her status as one of the title favorites this fortnight and knocked two of her rivals out of contention for the No.1 ranking.

In her early career, there were clear indications that Muguruza struggled against the Slovak’s idiosyncratic game, losing twice in four meetings prior to this year. But in the finest year of Rybarikova’s career so far, she has been permitted just four games in two meetings by the Wimbledon champion.

The Spaniard’s dominance in this match-up in 2017 is a testament to her improvement.

After her match against Rybarikova, Muguruza, who beat Venus in July’s Wimbledon final, wished Serena well, saying, “I’m very happy for her. It’s such a good moment I’m sure.”

When told the baby was a girl, Muguruza said, “Well, I hope she doesn’t play tennis.”

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