Serena Williams played her last match Friday night at the US Open. Or last match for now. After two good wins to start the event, Serena ran up against the steady and in-form Ajla Tomljanovic and it was the Australian hanging tough and staying focused in front of a raucous crowd for a 7-5, 6-7(4), 6-1.
“I thank everyone that’s here that’s been on my side for so many years, decades, literally decades,” Serena said. “It all started with my parents. They deserve everything. I’m grateful for them. These are happy tears. And I wouldn’t be Serena if it wasn’t for Venus. Thank you, Venus. She’s the only reason Serena Williams ever existed.
“It’s been a fun ride. It’s been the most incredible ride and journey I’ve ever been on in my life.”
The 3 hour, 5 minute battle was the longest match Serena has ever played at the US Open. Early on, Serena looked the strong player, dictating play to build a 5-3 lead in the first. Tomljanovic relaxed and started hitting with more depth and moving Serena around the court.
The 29-year-old was able to break back and level, then finish her run of four straight games to take the opener.
Down a set, Serena would quickly get back on top and jump out 4-0. Tomljanovic, who let down, started to let things flow and once again she got on a run. This time, Serena played a perfect tiebreak to level.
To start the third, it was Serena with a quick break — the worst possible start for Ajla. With crowd in a frenzy, Tomljanovic would manage to break back and then run out the match on a fading 23-time Grand Slam winner.
Serena wouldn’t go easily saving five match points until finding the net on the 6th, the same number of US Open titles.
“I just thought she’d beat me,” said the Australian. “The pressure wasn’t on me, she’s Serena. Even until the last point, I knew that she was in a really good position to win, even when she’s down, 5-1. That’s just who she is. She’s the greatest of all time, period.”
Tomljanovic moves on to face the streaking Liudmila Samsonova who won her 13th straight match.
Earlier in the day, Coco Gauff earned her first win over Madison Keys with a triumphant 6-2, 6-3 win. Gauff was simple too consistent for the error-prone Keys, once a finalist in New York.
“Last time she was overpowering me,” Gauff said of her loss to Keys in Adelaide. “I was like, If I lose, I’m not going to lose the same way. I think in January I was relying too much on my speed, because against lower-ranked players I could get away with just getting the ball back. Playing power hitters, I’m like: that’s not working anymore. Now I’m using [my athleticism] as a weapon, not so much as a defense mechanism.
“I feel like with each match I’m getting better and better. Now I’m not so much bummed about double faults … because I look at my first-serve points won and second-serve points won. It’s usually pretty high. You have to take the wins when you can.”
Caroline Garcia, the Cincinnati winner, claimed her 9th straight win topping former champion Bianca Andreescu.
“When you come to a tournament, you know what’s at the end of the two weeks in a Slam,” Garcia said. “I’m trying to do what’s working for me to think one match at a time, that’s what I’m doing at the beginning of the year, just focus on one match at a time.
“It’s really tight every day and you have to focus to get another challenge.”
Ons Jabeur held off Shelby Rogers and Alison Riske also advanced.
Tomorrow, the third round concludes with Iga Swiatek, American No. 1 Jessica Pegula, Danielle Collins and a big match between multi-Slam winners Petra Kvitova and Garbine Muguruza.
You Might Like:
Teen Dayana Yastremska Wins Second WTA Title In Hua Hin
Federer Targets Return On Clay, Possibly Farewell On Clay?
Coco Gauff: I’ll Never Be Serena Williams And Serena Williams Will Never Be Me
Radwanska Eliminated Leaving No Top 3 Women’s Seeds In A Slam 4th RD For First Time In Open Era
Serena Sent Out By Bencic In Toronto Farewell, Gauff Wins Thriller Over Rybakina