US Open 2013: Serena Williams gains revenge over Sloane Stephens - Tennis - Sport - The Independent

US Open 2013: Serena Williams gains revenge over Sloane Stephens

Williams advances into the quarter-finals

Serena Williams gained revenge for her Australian Open defeat by sweeping past Sloane Stephens and into the quarter-finals of the US Open.

As soon as the draw was made, it was the match-up that most excited the home nation as America's current leading lady was pitted against the player who could be the future number one.

But Williams asserted her authority and ran out a 6-4 6-1 winner on Arthur Ashe.

The world number one said: "Going into the match I definitely wanted to be focused the whole time. That's all I wanted to do. Whether I was going to win or lose, I just wanted to play my game and do well.

"I definitely think it was a high-quality match. I don't think either of us had an overwhelming amount of unforced errors. We both came out to play.

"It definitely had feelings more of a quarter-final or a semi-final match."

Williams has had plenty of practice at playing fellow Americans, not least her sister Venus, but she admitted facing the new generation on court is an emotional challenge.

"It's definitely difficult," she said. "Especially playing people that you like, that you always want to see do well.

"But you have to go out there and put that to the side and realise you want to do well yourself and take every point as it comes."

Stephens, 20, had shown in Melbourne that she was not prepared to wait her turn, shocking Williams in the quarter-finals.

The 31-year-old had been portrayed as a mentor to Stephens but the world number 16 exposed that as fiction in a highly critical interview a couple of months later.

Stephens claimed Williams had snubbed her in the wake of the match, although she quickly apologised and the two have been highly complimentary of each other since.

It was a fierce battle from the start, with Stephens trading well from the baseline and not afraid to take the game to the defending champion.

But Williams was the one pushing for a break of serve, and she got it in the sixth game with a brutal forehand return.

The top seed very much had her game face on so it was a surprise when she served successive double faults to allow Stephens to pull back to 4-3.

But the younger woman was under pressure on every service game and, serving to stay in the set, that told as Williams clinched it.

The start of the second set was tight as well but again it was Williams who made the first move with a break for 3-1, and she did not let Stephens back in.

The 20-year-old was happy with her efforts, saying: "I thought I played good. There were times I played some really good tennis. The second set got away from me a little bit, but overall I thought I played great.

"I thought she did a lot of things really well. She's number one in the world for a reason.

"It's an honour to be able to play on the court with one of the greatest tennis players of all time."

Stephens, meanwhile, is happy to be touted as the heir to Williams, adding: "I embrace it.

"I think it's tough because there's a lot of us. Just because I'm top 20 now, next year there could be three other American girls in the top 20. It just depends. Right now I'm carrying the little torch."

Williams will play Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro in the last eight after the 18th seed came through a very tough battle against eighth seed Angelique Kerber 4-6 6-3 7-6 (7/3).

It will be a first grand slam quarter-final in four and a half years for 24-year-old Suarez Navarro, who has quietly put together an impressive season.

PA

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