Serena Williams underlined her status as the favourite for the US Open by hammering her sister Venus on Friday night, in a match that equalled the most one-sided scoreline between these two great champions.
Having collected only three games in the 1hr 11min rout, Venus emphasised that: “It’s the best match she’s ever played against me. She didn’t win that match tonight because I just rolled over. She played untouchable tennis.
“I never got to really even touch any balls. Any shot that I hit great, she hit a greater shot. Obviously I hope she doesn’t play that well against me every time because I don’t think anyone has a chance.”
The anticipation ahead of what was expected to be a thrilling occasion was so great that the US Open announced a record-breaking attendance, which tipped just over 70,000 people at Flushing Meadows for the first time.
Only about 24,000 of those owned tickets for Arthur Ashe Stadium, but every seat was taken in this enormous arena, which is the largest on the tennis circuit. There have been many US Open finals with smaller crowds.
The early exchanges were fast, brutal and short as both sisters tried to land the first winning punch in each rally. But Serena was both serving with pinpoint accuracy and seeing the ball superbly on her returns.
There was one moment of concern as Serena rolled her ankle slightly when Venus wrong-footed her with a backhand winner. At the first changeover, the trainer applied extra tape to the joint, which was already well bandaged to protect it from such accidents. But Serena’s superb rhythm was not disrupted in the least by the incident.
She broke in the fourth game and then reeled off a sequence of seven straight games, leaving the fans impressed by her extraordinary gifts but disappointed by the lack of a competitive contest.
“I played much better tonight than I have since I started this journey on my way back,” said Williams, who thus extended her head-to-head advantage over Venus to 18-12. She will play Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi in the fourth round.