Serena, Keys, Venus
Advance to AO third round
Ashley Marshall | January 17, 2019
The top American women continued their march toward a familiar second-week stay in Melbourne on Day 4 of the Australian Open.
There were wins for No. 16 seed Serena Williams, No. 17 seed Madison Keys and world No. 38 Venus Williams, three players who have combined for 22 Aussie Open quarterfinals in the past.
Serena defeated former Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard of Canada, 6-2, 6-2, while Keys toppled Anastasia Potapova of Russia, 6-3, 6-4. Neither Serena nor Keys have dropped a set through their opening two matches.
Venus, meanwhile, split an entertaining first two sets against Alize Cornet of France before running away with the match, 6-3, 4-6, 6-0, to set up a third-round showdown with world No. 1 Simona Halep. The top seed scraped past up-and-coming American Sofia Kenin on Thursday, rallying from a break down in the deciding set to win the final four games and punch her ticket into the Round of 32 with a 6-3, 6-7, 6-4 win.
Serena will play Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine in the third round after the world No.
59 fought past 23rd-seeded Carla Suarez Navarro.
Since a third-round loss at the 2006 Australian Open, Serena, who has won 22 of her past 23 matches at Melbourne Park, has reached the fourth round or better in 10 consecutive appearances.
Should Serena advance, she will play the winner of Venus or Halep in the Round of 16.
Eight of the past 16 Australian finals have been contested by at least one Williams sister. And should the siblings meet in the fourth round on Monday, it would be their 31st career match – their 17th at a major and fourth at the Australian Open.
Serena leads the matchup with her sister 18-12, and she owns an 8-1 career head-to-head against Halep. The Romanian last beat Serena in the round-robin phase of the 2014 WTA Finals in Singapore, a tournament Serena went on to win by defeating Halep in the final.
Keys, who reached the Australian Open semifinals in 2015 and the quarterfinals 12 months ago, will play No. 12 seed Elise Mertens of Belgium in the third round. It will likely present Keys, a US Open finalist in 2017, with her first real test of the tournament and should serve as a barometer for the season ahead.
Keys has played some of the best tennis of her career in the past 18 months, during which time she has contested a US Open final, two semifinals and one quarterfinal. Keys’ power-first baseline game has seen her make the second week of all four majors, and while it is most suited to hard courts, a final-four appearance at Roland Garros and a quarterfinal run at Wimbledon prove it can translate to any surface.
Elsewhere in singles play on Day 4, Madison Brengle pushed 2017 US Open finalist Karolina Pliskova to three sets in a 4-6, 6-1, 6-0 loss, while Ryan Harrison fell to No. 15 seed Daniil Medvedev of Russia, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3.
That leaves eight Americans – six women and two men – in contention Down Under when third-round action begins Friday.
Doubles play also continued on Day 4. Among the Americans advancing to the second round were all-U.S. duos Jack Sock and Jackson Withrow, Steve Johnson and Denis Kudla and Jen Brady and Alison Riske.
No. 8 seed Abigail Spears (with Su-Wei Hsieh), No. 9 seed Raquel Atawo (with Katarina Srebotnik) and No. 11 seed Rajeev Ram (with Joe Salisbury) also advanced to the second round, as did Taylor Fritz (with Cam Norrie), Taylor Townsend (with Aliaksandra Sasnovich) and Sabrina Santamaria (with Veronika Kudermetova).
Headlining Day 5 action is Taylor Fritz against 20-time Grand Slam men's singles champion Roger Federer and 2018 US Open champion and fifth seed Sloane Stephens against Petra Martic. Other Americans playing Friday include Amanda Anisimova against No. 11 seed Aryna Sabalenka, Danielle Collins against No. 19 seed Caroline Garcia and Frances Tiafoe against Andreas Seppi.