US Open: Serena Williams Struggles but Advances, Marin Cilic, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal Progress Into Third Round

US Open: Serena Williams Struggles but Advances, Marin Cilic, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal Progress Into Third Round

Author : ABC NewsThu, 03 Sep, 2015, 08:49

Serena Williams struggled but advanced closer to the first calendar Grand Slam since 1988 by defeating Dutch qualifier Kiki Bertens 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 at the US Open.

In the men's competition top seed Novak Djokovic, defending champion Marin Cilic and eighth seed Rafael Nadal all progressed to the third round.

World number one Williams, a three-time defending champion seeking her seventh US Open title overall, was outplayed early by her 110th-ranked rival but overcame 26 unforced errors and eight double faults to win the first set and found enough form to sustain her march toward history at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

"I just kept fighting for each point, not for a lot but just one at a time," Williams said.

"I had been pretty relaxed. Today I was a little tight. I think it showed. Hopefully I can get back to where I was before."

The 33-year-old American is trying to complete the first calendar Grand Slam since Steffi Graf in 1988 and equal Graf's Open Era record of 22 Slam singles titles, two shy of Australian Margaret Court's all-time record.

She will face fellow American Bethanie Mattek-Sands for a place in the last-16.

Serena could reach a Grand Slam singles final without facing a top-10 rival for the first time in her career, but her quarter-final foe could be 35-year-old sister Venus or Swiss 18-year-old Belinda Bencic, who inflicted Serena's most recent defeat.

Bencic, the highest seed remaining in Serena's half of the draw at 12th, saved three match points in the second set and outlasted Japan's 88th-ranked Misaki Doi 5-7, 7-6 (7/3), 6-3.

"I'm just happy I could turn it around," she said.

Bencic, who defeated Serena in the Toronto semi-finals last month, next plays Venus after the elder Williams eliminated fellow American Irina Falconi 6-3, 6-7 (2/7), 6-2.

"She played really well in the tie-breaker," Venus Williams said. "In the third set I had a lot more clarity."

Nadal and Djokovic advance in straight sets

Rafael Nadal took his US Open record to 22 wins in his last 23 matches when he beat diminutive Argentine Diego Schwartzman 7-6 (7/5), 6-3, 7-5 to reach the third round.

Eighth-seeded Nadal, the 2010 and 2013 champion, came back from a break down in both the second and third sets to book a clash with volatile Italian Fabio Fognini for a place in the last-16.

Nadal lost to Fognini in Rio and Barcelona this year before gaining revenge over the Italian in the Hamburg final in July.

"I feel lucky to be through. It was very humid and Diego was very aggressive so to take the first set was very important," said Nadal, who missed the US Open in 2012 and 2014 through injury.

Nadal had needed four sets to see off Croatian teenager Borna Coric in the first round on Monday and was tested again by 5ft 7in (1.73m) Schwartzman, the world number 73 who has never beaten a top 10 player.

Nadal surrendered a 5-2 lead in the first set before clinching the tiebreak and was 2-0 down in the second set and 3-2 behind in the third before he rallied.

He claimed victory on a second match point courtesy of a net cord but having committed 40 unforced errors, he will know that there is still plenty of work to do if he is to claim a 15th Grand Slam.

Top seed Novak Djokovic strolled into the US Open third round with a 90-minute demolition of Austrian Andreas Haider-Maurer.

The world number one and 2011 champion, who is bidding to reach the final for the sixth time, eased to a 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 win over the 52nd-ranked Austrian.

It was the second match in succession that Djokovic had not faced a break point.

Serb top seed Djokovic, already with the Australian Open and Wimbledon titles under his belt this year, goes on to face Italian veteran Andreas Seppi for a place in the last-16.

Djokovic holds a 10-0 career lead over Seppi, the 25th seed.

Marin Cilic returned to Arthur Ashe Stadium, scene of last year's triumph, and it once again looked to be a perfect fit as the big-hitting Croatian rolled to 6-2, 6-3, 7-5 win over the Russian qualifier Evgeny Donskoy.

During last year's magical run Cilic was invincible on the Arthur Ashe Stadium court as he swept by Tomas Berdych in the quarters, took out Roger Federer in the semis and Kei Nishikori in a one-sided final.

"This court is very special for me, brings back special memories," the ninth-seeded Cilic said in an on-court interview. "It's sort of unreal. I was working all my life to win a grand slam and now I'm in position to defend one."

After a first round littered with upsets, the start of second round action went according to script as Spanish seventh seed David Ferrer beat Serb Filip Krajinovic 7-5, 7-5, 7-6 (6/4) and Canadian 10th seed Milos Raonic fought off back pain and several visits from the trainer to beat Spain's Fernando Verdasco 6-2, 6-4, 6-7 (7/5), 7-6 (6/1).

Mardy Fish calls it a day

There was a great start to another steamy day for the Americans with 19th seed Madison Keys needing just 54 minutes on centre court to race past Czech Tereza Smitkova 6-1, 6-2 and reach the third round for the first time four tries.

The victory marked another milestone in what has been Keys's best grand slam season having reached the Australian Open semi-finals, Wimbledon quarters and third round of the French Open.

Flushing Meadows said goodbye to Mardy Fish, the 33-year-old American who announced earlier this year that he would retire after playing in his 13th US Open.

After an 18 month lay-off, Fish, who suffers from an anxiety disorder, returned to the ATP Tour in March and only played four events but went down swinging in his final grand slam.

Fish stretched it out as long as he could and appeared to be on the brink of an impressive upset but ultimately fell 2-6, 6-3, 1-6, 7-5, 6-3 to 18th seeded Spaniard Feliciano Lopez.

"I have got a lot of great memories; I've got a lot of good wins out here. I have made a lot of really good friendships with almost everyone out here," said Fish.

"I probably would have chosen this one as my last one regardless if I didn't have any issues with my health in the past couple of years just because this is the biggest one and the most fun and the one that you want to go out on."

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