Serena roars back to keep Grand Slam bid alive

Fri Sep 4, 2015 10:15pm EDT
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By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Serena Williams flirted with grand slam danger once again but kept her calendar-year Grand Slam bid on track by beating a battling, 101st-ranked Bethanie Mattek-Sands 3-6 7-5 6-0 at the U.S. Open on Friday.

Williams, who lost nine sets, including seven first-set losses, in her charge to the Australian, French and Wimbledon titles, was tested at Flushing Meadows by her fellow American, but roared back to victory to reach the fourth round.

"I'm not trying to live on the edge," the 33-year-old Williams said in an on-court interview. "I'm playing players that come out really strong. I just think Bethanie played really well."

The world number one looked out of sorts at the start, broken twice in dropping the first set to the aggressive Mattek-Sands, who at age 30 still looks like a punk rocker with a splash of orange topping her pinned up blond hair.

Williams at times appeared to be trying too hard, putting extra effort into opportunities to produce a service break and often overhitting and sending shots wide or long.

She won only one of seven break points in the first set, and two of nine in the second.

A service break by Williams in the last game of the second set, on her second set point, forced the decider and by then Williams seemed to have relaxed and produced the prodigious power that has carried her to a 51-2 record this year.

"She's a great player. She's fought so many difficult injuries," Williams said of Mattek-Sands. "I respect her a lot and know to expect a great game."   Continued...

Serena Williams of the U.S. celebrates a point against Bethanie Mattek-Sands of the U.S. during their match at the U.S. Open Championships tennis tournament in New York, September 4, 2015. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz