Top Seeded Williams and Djokovic Advance at W&S Open
Both Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic survived tough tests and tricky weather conditions Thursday afternoon to advance to the Round of 16 at the Western & Southern Open.
Williams, the defending champion, defeated Tsvetana Pironkova 7-5 6-4 as she continues not only her title defense but her final preparations for a fourth straight US Open title, twenty second Grand Slam title, and a calendar Grand Slam, a feat only accomplished by Steffi Graf in the Open Era.
Pironkova held strong with Williams for much of the match before Williams finally exerted her presence. Williams did not have a break point opportunity until the twelfth game of the first set and needed just that one opportunity to take the first set 7-5.
Much like the first set, Pironkova was able to keep Williams at bay on her serve until late in the set. Serving at 4-3, Pironkova again gave Williams the only break opportunity she would need. Williams served out the set and match with three aces to secure the 7-5 6-3 win.
“I think it could be a lot better,” Williams said of her play as she prepares for the US Open. “It’s not where I want it ideally, but, you know, I’m going to have to fix that more mentally than anything. I think once I lock in there I will be ok.”
On the men’s side, top seed Novak Djokovic had to wait out the third of four rain delays before taking the court against tricky Benoit Paire. With tough conditions, a tricky opponent, and still nursing a sore right elbow Djokovic struggled to get his teeth into the match before ultimately pulling out a 7-5 6-2 victory.
“You know, it was a strange match all in all, but it’s what the instructions I got from the coach was expect the unexpected, and that was the case,” Djokovic said. “A lot of drop shots. He’s got a great backhand. He’s got a good serve.”
Djokovic would struggle throughout the match on Paire’s serve, only converting 5 of 15 break points, including six missed break point opportunities in a twelve minute long tenth game in the first set.
Paire was able to keep Djokovic guessing with a full arsenal of drop shots and slice shots from both the forehand and backhand. “You couldn’t really predict what kind of shot comes your way,” Djokovic said of Paire’s shot making today. “You know a slow spin ball or a fast flat? I had to stay alert all the time.”
Other notable Men’s 2nd round matches completed:
5-seed Wawrinka d. Coric 3-6, 7-6(3), 6-3
3-seed Murray d. Fish 6-4 7-6(1)
8-seed Nadal d. Chardy 6-3 6-4
Other notable Women’s 2nd Round matches completed:
Sloane Stephens d Barthel 3-6, 7-6(1), 6-2
Garcia d. 4-seed Kvitova 7-5, 4-6, 6-2
Azarenka d. 5-seed Wozniacki 6-0 6-4
3-seed Halep d. Mladenovic 7-5, 5-7, 6-4