Serena Williams turned her 30th career meeting with her sister Venus into a one-woman showcase Friday, reaching the US Open fourth round with a 6-1, 6-2 victory.
In the men’s section, world number one and defending champion Rafael Nadal came back from a set and break down to defeat Karen Khachanov 5-7, 7-5, 7-6 (9/7), 7-6 (7/3) and reach the fourth round .
Reluctantly rising to an occasion neither sister enjoys, Serena said she played her best match since she returned in March, more than six months after giving birth to daughter Olympia last September 1.
‘I played much better tonight than I have since I started this journey on my way back,’ said Serena, although she wasn’t sure she’d agree with Venus’s assessment that it was the best match she’d ever played against her sister.
‘I think it’s by far the best match I ever played against her in forever,’ she said. ‘But I don’t know about ever, ever.’
Either way, the scoreline equalled Serena’s most lopsided victory over Venus, and took her head-to-head record against her sister to 18-12.
The most dramatic moment of the contest came when Serena rolled her right ankle in the second game. She took a medical timeout at the next changeover to have more tape added the bandage she was already wearing under her sock.
There was no sign she was affected as she romped through seven straight games.
When she sealed it with a forehand winner, the sisters met at the net for a hug then walked to their chairs before Serena acknowledged the crowd with a wave.
Since falling to Angelique Kerber in the Wimbledon final, Serena had endured erratic results in the hardcourt buildup to the US Open.
But she looked every inch a contender to claim a record seventh US Open crown that would see her equal Margaret Court’s record of 24 major titles.
Meanwhile, victory for the 32-year-old Nadal put him into the last 16 in New York for the 10th time and on course to add to his 2010, 2013 and 2017 titles.
However, 2009 champion and third seed Juan Martin del Potro, his potential semi-final opponent, also made the last 16 with a 7-5, 7-6 (8/6), 6-3 win over Fernando Verdasco.
Top seeded Nadal triumphed over Khachanov after an epic 4 hour 23 minute struggle on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
But the 22-year-old Russian had his chances.
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