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‘I have absolutely nothing to lose’: Serena comes up big in US Open win

On Wednesday at Arthur Ashe Stadium, Williams defeated World No. 2 Anett Kontaveit 7-6(4), 2-6, 6-2 in front of yet another boisterous, uproarious record crowd.

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Serena Williams was questioned about any concerns she might have had about her ability to compete at the age of almost 41 after moving on to the second round of the US Open.

“I don’t think I had any questions,” she said.

On Wednesday at Arthur Ashe Stadium, Williams defeated World No. 2 Anett Kontaveit 7-6(4), 2-6, 6-2 in front of yet another boisterous, uproarious record crowd. She was once more playing in the final singles match of her illustrious career, and this time, she moved and played more freely than in previous matches.

Williams’ opponent for the second consecutive game appeared more frightened by the monumental circumstances than she was, especially during pivotal moments. She was more controlled and consistent against a much superior player who was rated 78 ranks higher after the intense emotions of the opening night show.

“It’s no rush here. I am loving this crowd. I’m a pretty good player. This is what I do. I love a challenge, and I’m rising to the challenge.”

And today, there are higher expectations. In Friday’s third round matchup with Ajla Tomljanovic, Serena will be a clear favourite. Additionally, given the favourable draw, there will be serious doubts raised about her ability to prevail in this contest.

“I’m just pleased I showed up because the last few tournaments I didn’t show up,” Williams said. “But I’ve been practicing really well and I’m pleased that I’m finally seeing my practice come into my matches, so that’s nice.”

Serena won the first set tiebreak with two unreturnable serves, the second of which was an ace outside, with another record crowd of 29,959 firmly in her corner, including Tiger Woods and sister Venus in her player box. But it was obvious that the exertion had worn her down. In the second set, Kontaveit dominated the six-time US Open champion, taking six of eight games.

Williams delivered the opening major punch of the third set, breaking Kontaveit’s serve after the 26-year-old Estonian’s forehand flew too far. Williams appeared to be in position to take a 3-0 lead after winning the first three points of the third set, but Kontaveit displayed great composure and converted her second break point.

Naturally, Williams quickly responded to take the lead 3-1. This time, she provided a neat service game as support. Then, when she had a break point to take a 5-2 lead, she saved it to display a double fist pump.

It was just like 1999 when Williams won her first major at the US Open when she was 17 years old when her backhand winner sailed inside the line.

“I don’t have anything to prove. I don’t have anything to win. I have absolutely nothing to lose,” she said.

“Honestly, I never get to play like this since ’98 really. Literally, I’ve had an X on my back since ’99. It’s kind of fun. I really enjoy just coming out and enjoying it. It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to do that.”

Amazingly, Williams currently holds a 75-2 record in second-round matchups in Slams. Her only defeats were at the hands of Venus, her sister, at the 1998 Australian Open, and Garbine Muguruza, at the 2014 Roland Garros. In the first two rounds of the US Open, she has yet to lose.

“I think she played really well,” Kontaveit said. “I mean, I thought I didn’t play a bad match at all. She definitely raised her level in the third set. She played amazing.”

(Inputs from IANS)