US Open: Venus Williams victorious over Maria Sakkari

Venus Williams’ impressive form at Grand Slam tournaments this year continued on Friday afternoon, with the American fending off Maria Sakkari to reach the fourth round at the US Open.

The American struggled on serve at times, at one time hitting four double faults in a single game to get broken by the Greek, though eventually proved too consistent for the erratic Sakkari as she recorded a 6-3, 6-4 win on the Arthur Ashe Stadium in an hour and 14 minutes; herself and Garbine Muguruza are the only women to reach the second round at each Grand Slam tournament this season.

Williams battled through on the Arthur Ashe Stadiium today (Getty/Al Bello)
Williams battled through on the Arthur Ashe Stadium today (Getty/Al Bello)

It was undoubtedly an emotional day for the ninth seed today, with the news emerging that her sister, Serena Williams, had welcomed a baby girl into the world with fiance Alexis Ohanian. The two-time champion at Flushing Meadows handled the occasion well and she will be aiming to reach her 12th quarterfinal at the tournament when she faces Carla Suarez Navarro on Sunday.

Williams tested by Sakkari but pulls through in straight sets

There were certainly wobbly moments for Williams in the second set, with Sakkari causing some trouble with her returning, though the Australian Open and Wimbledon runner-up’s experience showed as she was able to close out the match in straight sets.

There were signs early on that Sakkari would prove the biggest test so far for Venus, with the seven-time Grand Slam champion surviving two tight service games early on whilst the Greek was looking more comfortable on serve. However, Williams began to start pushing her opponent around court and broke down the Greek to break, taking a 5-2 lead in the opening set. Sakkari was able to put some pressure on by forcing Williams to serve out the set, though the American was comfortable as she put herself one set from the second week.

Sakkari and Williams meet after their encounter (Getty/Al Bello)
Sakkari and Williams meet after their encounter (Getty/Al Bello)

The second set, however, proved to be much more complicated. Williams got off to a perfect start, breaking Sakkari in the opening game, though inexplicably hit four double faults to immediately concede her advantage. The American broke once again two service games later, though Sakkari once again fought back as she continued to take advantage of the difficulties the former champion was having with her serving. Despite that, Williams broke for a third time in the set and this time consolidated it to put herself within a game of victory. The Greek once again forced her to serve it out, though Williams sealed a hard fought victory with a comfortable hold.

It was undoubtedly not a vintage performance by Williams, who hit eight double faults compared to no aces, and also made 24 unforced errors. However, she in total made more winners and less unforced errors than Sakkari and will be expecting another tricky match against Suarez Navarro next.