Serena Williams prolonged her run on the 2022 U.S. Open on Wednesday night time in a three-set thriller over the No. 2 seed within the event, Annet Kontaveit. Sports activities Illustrated’s Jon Wertheim and Chris Almeida focus on whether or not Williams, at age 40, can now be thought-about a critical contender in what she’s mentioned will likely be her ultimate skilled event.
Chris Almeida: All proper, Serena Williams is onto the following spherical. This was actually extra compelling than her first-round match—it was in opposition to Anett Kontaveit, the second seed, and it went three units, 7–6, 2–6, 6–2. There was some gravity to this match. Serena had the strain placed on her, and she or he responded. She performed nice.
Jon Wertheim: On the one hand, a six-time U.S. Open champion profitable a match on the U.S. Open can by no means be an upset. On the opposite: This is likely one of the extra beautiful outcomes I’ve seen in a very long time. We must always level out early right here that Kontaveit is No. 2 within the seedings, however she’s received some lengthy COVID points and is clearly not the world’s second-best participant. However nonetheless: 48 hours in the past, Serena had received one match within the final 12 months and had misplaced her final set 0–6. Can we speak about her significantly, now, as a U.S. Open contender? There’s nonetheless a protracted method to go. however this was actually spectacular. She did not simply beat the second-seeded participant, she did not simply beat somebody 15 years youthful than her, however she regarded just like the Serena of outdated whereas doing it.
CA: She was doing every little thing. She was transferring tremendous nicely, hitting winners from in all places. And the group … they’re actually behind her. Clearly that may be a big a part of this. I watched this all kind of occur two days in the past, and nonetheless, absolutely the silence each time Kontaveit received a degree was not like something I’ve ever heard earlier than. Tiger Woods was within the viewers tonight, and this felt like what it looks like when he’s taking part in tournaments now. The galleries revolve round his each transfer. Everyone is there for him. I mentioned on Monday that this might flip into an Agassi-Baghdatis scenario. Nicely, that’s the closest comparability I might consider. The gang was completely in a single nook.
JW: In the event you had been struck by that, relaxation assured Serena’s opponent is, too. This isn’t a sport that does house video games and highway video games. And I believe that you recognize her subsequent opponent goes to really feel this, too. Tennis gamers are used to taking part in 23,000-seat arenas, and so they actually aren’t used to strolling into these arenas and having each single individual within the constructing rooting in opposition to them. You do not put together for that. You have by no means had that have earlier than.
And, look, I do know that we nonetheless have 5 rounds to go. It is easy to type of spin this right into a Hollywood ending, so I might warning in opposition to that. But when anybody thought Serena was going to return right here and mail it in and take her victory lap, we have gotten 5 units of indication that is not going to be the case.
CA: So subsequent she’s received Ajla Tomljanović, a positive participant, however actually not anyone with a number of stadium court docket reps.
JW: She’s 10-plus years youthful, however not anyone who is named one of many sport’s nice closers. I’ve to assume that she will likely be a bit of bit jarred by 23,000 individuals rooting for her opponent. That is one other winnable match. In the event you can beat the No. 2 participant as Serena did at this time, you’ll be able to actually win one other spherical.
CA: It is actually going to maintain being like this till it will get to the later rounds and Serena comes up in opposition to somebody with a fan base of their very own. And which may take some time with this draw and with a number of huge names dropping very early. I do not know the way many individuals are actually bringing even a bit of contingent of theirs into the world.
JW: Be mindful too how few gamers have performed Serena as nicely. As a result of Serena hasn’t performed a ton just lately and a few gamers simply burst onto the scene, a number of this will likely be completely new to them. So not solely have they got this weight of the event and historical past and the followers and the second however a scarcity of aggressive expertise in opposition to this explicit opponent as nicely. Iga Swiatek has by no means performed Serena Williams! You type of go down the listing and there are a number of gamers who’ve by no means had the expertise of taking part in her earlier than. And in order that’s one thing else that most likely works to Serena’s benefit.
CA: Alright, onto the following one. See you Friday!
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