The rest of the field in the women’s singles at the US Open has been warned. Serena Williams believes that she played the best tennis of her comeback yet in her 6-1, 6-2 victory over her sister Venus here on Friday night.
“This was my best match since I returned,” Serena said after playing her 20th match since beginning her comeback less than six months ago following the birth of her daughter.
“I worked for it. I worked really hard these last three or four months. That’s life. You have to keep working hard, no matter what ups or downs you have. That's what I've been doing.”
The gulf between the quality of the two sisters’ games was huge. Serena simply had too much power and too much quality for her sister, who has now lost their last six meetings in Grand Slam tournaments.
Williams produced the best tennis of her comeback (Getty Images)
“I think it’s the best match she’s ever played against me,” Venus said afterwards. “I don't think I did a lot wrong. But she just did everything right. Obviously that level is definitely where she's going to want to stay during this whole tournament.”
She added: “I never got to really even touch any balls. When your opponent plays like that, it's not really anything to be upset about. She just played much better than me.
“The only thing I maybe could have done was put more first serves in, though she even returned my first serves really well. Any shot that I hit great, she hit a greater shot. Not a lot I can do.”
Venus was no match for her sister (EPA)
Serena, who at 36 is two years younger than her sister, needed just 72 minutes to match her most emphatic victory over Venus in their previous 29 meetings. The only other occasion when she conceded just three games against her sister was on clay at Charleston five years ago.
The atmosphere in Arthur Ashe Stadium was curiously subdued – especially in comparison with the excitement generated by Rafael Nadal’s victory over Karen Khachanov in the previous match – but that probably had much to do with the one-sided nature of the evening.
The sisters' earliest meeting in a Grand Slam tournament in 20 years was never a contest, despite Serena suffering an ankle injury in the first set for which she required treatment. Winning seven games in a row to take the opening set and put down a marker in the second, Serena was on song from the start.
Serena will play Estonian Kaia Kanepi next (Getty Images)
Serena hit 10 aces to one by Venus and 34 winners to her sister’s 14. Venus had only one break point all match, which she did not take.
The fact that the match was decided on Serena’s racket was demonstrated in the final game as she served out for a victory that earned a fourth-round meeting with the Estonian Kaia Kanepi. The last five points consisted of two aces, two double faults and a forehand winner which sealed the victory.
“It's not easy,” Serena said afterwards. “She’s my best friend. She means the world to me. Every time she loses, I feel like I do. It's not very easy, but it's a tournament. We know there's more to life than just playing each other and playing tennis."