Twenty three Grand Slam champion Serena Williams continued her quest for record 24th title and 7th US Open title with a 6-2, 6-4 defeat of unseeded Russian Margarita Gasparyan at the Flushing Meadows on Friday.
The 38-year-old closed out the first set with ease before a slight wobble in the second when she was broken twice by Gasparyan, before progressing into the third round.
“I’m just happy to get through it and try to focus on the next round,” said Williams, who will take on 2017 champion Sloane Stephens in the last 32.
A tournament victory next week would also see her break away from Chris Evert, on six titles, as the most decorated US Open champion of the women’s game in the modern era.
Williams’ chances have been improved by the absence of several top players, included top-ranked Ashleigh Barty and Simona Halep, over coronavirus fears or injury.
She was handed a further boost on Wednesday when top seed Karolina Pliskova tumbled out of the tournament.
The Czech was stunned in straight sets by France’s world No. 50 Caroline Garcia.
Williams’ American compatriot Sofia Kenin, the No. 2 seed, continued her impressive form this year with a straightforward 6-4, 6-3 victory over Canadian Leylah Fernandez to progress into the third round.
The reigning Australian Open champion Kenin is yet to drop a set at Flushing Meadows as she bids for her second Grand Slam title of the year, and of her career. “I feel like I found a groove. I’m really focused on every shot,” said the Moscow-born player who will take on 27th seed Ons Jabeur of Tunisia in the next round.
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It was however not sweet song for Andy Murray as he was stopped from progressing to the third round by Canadian Felix Auger Aliassime 6-2 6-3 6-4.