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2022 US Open: Serena Williams beats world No. 2 Anett Kontaveit with huge crowd support

Serena Williams beat world number two Anett Kontaveit to advance to the third round at the US Open, where the draw has opened up for the former champion.

Serena Williams reacts during her second round match against Estonia's Anett Kontaveit.

Serena Williams’ path to a 24th Grand Slam title at the US Open was never going to be straightforward. The 23-times major winner went into what will be her final tournament – barring a change of heartranked 605 in the world and a month shy of her 41st birthday, with a only a handful of matches under her belt after a hiatus of almost a year from the WTA Tour. Now, having seen off world number two Anett Kontaveit in three sets on a jubilant and star-studded Arthur Ashe on Wednesday night, Williams suggested there is still plenty left in the tank. “I haven’t played many matches but I’ve been practising really well. Now it’s coming together in New York.”

Williams has so far done her part to keep hopes of a fairy tale ending alive and the draw is also obliging. Kontaveit was the top seed in the American’s section of the bracket and last year’s runner-up, Leylah Fernandez, and 2021 French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova have already been removed from the picture. Awaiting the winner of the third-round match between Williams and Ajla Tomljanovic will be one of world number 35 Liudmila Samsonova or 96-ranked Aleksandra Krunic. Potential quarter-final opponents include 31st seed Shelby Rogers, 18th seed Veronika Kudermetova and world number five Ons Jabeur, who reached the final at Wimbledon this season but has never been past the third round in Flushing Meadows.

Tomljanovic may provide sternest test of Williams’ credentials

In Tomljanovic, Williams faces a dangerous customer who has reached the quarters at Wimbledon in the past two seasons and is 30-20 for the current year with some notable top 10 wins among that record (Paula Badosa at the Western & Southern Open, Kontaveit at Roland Garros). However, like Jabeur, Tomljanovic has never been past the third round at the US Open or at her home slam in Melbourne, where she has lost in the first round on her last four appearances. The Australian’s record in slams is 19-27 and as was the case against Kontaveit, the occasion and a partisan crowd will give Williams a definite edge.

Tomljanovic tends to struggle against powerful baseliners and Williams’ serve radar was firing in her match against Kontaveit, the American sending down 11 aces while breaking her opponent five times. Tomljanovic and Williams have never before met on the WTA Tour.