Elena Vesnina was made to work hard for the win as the crafty Kirsten Flipkens provided a tough fight for the Russian in the second round of the US Open, with the world number 18 eventually triumphing in straight sets after an hour and 41 minutes of play.
Vesnina takes the first set 6-4
Flipkens had the best possible start to the match as she did not face any nerves despite serving in the opening game, using her deadly backhand slices to force out errors from Vesnina, and comfortably held her serve to 15. The Russian had to fend off two break points in her first service game, but managed to overcome her early rust to get onto the scoreboard.
The Belgian continued to look untouchable on serve as she held her serve to love for yet another easy service hold. Vesnina looked very inconsistent early on, throwing in a couple more unforced errors which saw Flipkens another two break points. Nonetheless, the higher-ranked player found some of her best tennis at the most crucial moments, narrowly holding on to level the scores.
Unexpectedly, it was Vesnina who made the first breakthrough as she came from 40-0 down to get the first break of serve on her first break point, with Flipkens unable to deal well with the powerful groundstrokes of the Russian. Vesnina finally had her first comfortable service hold as she easily consolidated the break for a 4-2 lead, before earning yet another break point in the seventh game. However, Flipkens was able to come back from the brink and narrowed the deficit to just one game.
With two consecutive double faults to end the game with, Vesnina gifted back the break to Flipkens in a marathon game and the scores were level at 4-4 all of a sudden. Nonetheless, Vesnina broke straight back as she put in some solid and consistent groundstrokes, earning the golden opportunity to serve out the first set. Not disappointing her fans, Vesnina successfully held her serve and clinched the first set 6-4 after a lengthy 52 minutes of play.
Vesnina overcomes mid-match wobble to seal the win
Carrying over the momentum into the second set, Vesnina continued her good run of form as she immediately broke serve in the opening game, relying on some unforced errors by Flipkens to do so. The Russian started to become invincible on her serve as she comfortably consolidated the break for a 2-0 lead, looking poised for the victory.
Flipkens then came from 15-30 down to get herself onto the scoreboard, but it still was not enough to help her gain the momentum as Vesnina continued to steamroll through her service games. With the help of some powerful returns, the higher-ranked player extended her lead when she broke serve for the fourth time in the match to lead by a set and a double break, edging closer to the victory.
However, Flipkens broke straight back with the help of some unforced errors by Vesnina, lessening the deficit to just two games. The Belgian then came out of nowhere to break and level at 4-4, with Vesnina becoming increasingly erratic as the set progressed.
Nonetheless, the Russian was quick to regain her composure as Flipkens crumbled to her powerful returns, allowing the world number 18 to earn the golden opportunity to serve for the match. Putting in some of her best serves in the match, Vesnina quickly sealed the win after an hour and 41 minutes and set up a meeting with 15th seed Madison Keys in the third round.