After the thrilling two-set comeback that Andy Murray put on display to open Tuesday's play on Arthur Ashe, all the attention diverted to an all-American showdown between Serena Williams and Kristie Ahn.
The third seed is coming off of back-to-back finals in the last couple of years, falling to Naomi Osaka and Bianca Andreescu respectively. Ahn on the other hand, had a Cinderella run to the last 16 in 2019.
Ahn held leads early in both sets, but Serena took the charge to win 7-5, 6-3 to advance to the second round of the US Open.
Serena Takes Set One Late
What looked to be a routine service game for Williams then became a break of serve for Ahn. On game point, she missed an easy forehand into the net then double-faulted to give Ahn the break. The world number 96 gave the break back after knocking her own forehand long.
The service games were beginning to get cleaned up. Williams slammed an ace to save break point, to avoid a 4-5 deficit. The former six-time champion in New York quickly jumped to a 0-30 lead in the last service game of the set after forcing a backhand miss from Ahn. That is exactly how Williams closed to take the set.
Serena Rolls After Slow Start
It was dejá vu from set one with Ahn claiming the opening game of the set after a backhand unforced error from Williams. Ahn was able to consolidate with a forehand hold and was looking to make sure the second set would not be a carbon copy of the first.
The set quickly shifted to Williams, breaking Ahn twice during a run of five straight games. The second of those two breaks was capped off with a beautiful backhand winner down the line. A love hold made it 5-2, and after a tight opening set, Serena looked well in charge of this one.
Despite a spirited effort to try and end the match on Ahn's serve, Williams was forced to serve for the match. She would close it out quite comfortably to claim a record-setting 102nd singles victory at the US Open.