Serena ready for challenge after first round breeze
Originally published on 01/09/15
On an eventful opening day at Flushing Meadows, Vitalia Diatchenko’s retirement at 6-0 2-0 down sealed Williams’ place in the second round as she kicked off her bid for a seventh US Open title.
Diatchenko, who came in for her post-match press conference wearing a boot on her injured left ankle, won just five points against the world No.1 before tearfully throwing in the towel.
"I told her I was proud of her for coming out and making this effort, knowing she was injured," Williams said. "That's a great effort.”
When asked if she was concerned that she would not be ready for her second-round match after barely breaking a sweat against Diatchenko, Williams insisted it would not be an issue. The American will play Kiki Bertens on Wednesday after the Dutchwoman beat Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 3-6 6-4 6-2.
“I don't think that's a worry, because my practices are really intense and I really fight really hard in practice,” said Williams. “I know that every match is a challenge. I have to be ready for everything.”
Williams, who is already in possession of all four major titles, is bidding to become the first player, male or female, to win a calendar year Grand Slam since Steffi Graf in 1988. Her chances of reaching the final were boosted before she even took to court as No.3 seed Maria Sharapova withdrew with a knee injury on the eve of the tournament, and she is the only top-10 player remaining in the top half of the draw following early exits for No.7 seed Ana Ivanovic and No.8 seed Karolina Pliskova and No.10 seed Carla Suarez Navarro.
The 21-time Grand Slam champion will not meet a Top 30 player until at least the fourth round after No.29 seed Sloane Stephens was beaten by fellow American Coco Vandeweghe.
“Sloane played CoCo, who is a fire player, and that is not an easy match,” Williams said of Stephens’ defeat. “I can't say it's surprising. Coco, she's a really good player. We've had a lot of tough matches together. When she's on, she can really take out a lot of people. I think we've seen that [when] she got to the quarterfinals of Wimbledon.”