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An efficient US Open win provides Serena extra time with her daughter

An efficient US Open win provides Serena extra time with her daughter

The 23-time major champion promptly dismissed Karolina Muchova, 6-3, 6-2, in 74 minutes to move into the round of 16 at Flushing Meadows.

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NEW YORK – It was Friday afternoon. A three-day weekend neared. So naturally, eager to relax and spend time with her family after putting in two high-energy evenings at the office, Serena Williams sought to join them rapidly.

Mission accomplished. In one hour and 14 minutes, Williams comprehensively dispatched 44th-ranked 极速赛车双面盘Karolina Muchova, 6-3, 6-2.  

Williams’ first two matches intrigued. Monday night there’d been a much-anticipated encounter versus a fellow future Hall of Famer, Maria Sharapova. Williams had sprinted through that one in 59 minutes, winning it, 6-1, 6-1. Two evenings later, Williams took nearly twice as long to vanquish promising 17-year-old American Caty McNally, who won the first set before Williams took control to win, 5-7, 6-3, 6-1.

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Then there was Muchova, a late-blooming 23-year-old who personified a dreaded two-word concept: dangerous floater.

Earlier this summer, competing in the Wimbledon main draw for the first time, ranked only 68, Muchova made a surprise run to the quarters. Along the way, she took out 20th-ranked Anett Kontaveit and third-ranked Karolina Pliskova. The victory over Pliskova lasted three hours and 18 minutes, Muchova in the end winning it 4-6, 7-5, 13-11.

Most pleasing was that Muchova had won that match with frequent forays to the net. And a year ago, here in New York, Muchova had beaten two-time Grand Slam singles champion Garbine Muguruza. Surely she had the tools to trouble Williams.  

Unfortunately, the rain that intruded on Wednesday exacted a toll on Muchova today。 Her second-round match versus the extremely tricky Su-Wei Hsieh, scheduled for Wednesday, instead took place yesterday。 The two played a tennis match that doubled as a chess game, Muchova squeaking out a rather exhaustive clash, 7-6 in the third。

It was clear from the start of today’s match that Muchova was weary, lacking the leg strength to serve particularly well or, more significantly, the spring required to make the dart-like dashes to net that had made her so effective at Wimbledon. A meager six of 13 at the net today, Muchova on those occasions versus Williams usually found herself trapped one or even two steps further back than a net rusher desires. 

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Has there ever been a player who smells weakness better than Serena Williams? Returning powerfully off both sides, Williams earned break points in two of Muchova’s first three service games, including a 15-40 opening at 2-all。 But Muchova hung on。 At 3-3, love-15, though, Muchova missed three straight first serves, not a good place to be versus Williams, who at last broke serve。 Though Muchova earned a break point in the next game, an 86 mph changeup from Williams erased that chance, Muchova misfiring her return。 Williams then broke again to close out the first set, 6-3。

Echoing the quick-fire match breakaway pattern Pete Sampras had raised to an art form, Williams broke Muchova early in the second set and was soon up 3-0. Though she suffered a mild hiccup to drop serve at 3-1, Williams instantly broke in the next game and rapidly ran out the match.

“I don't know how I would grade my performance,” said Williams。 “Just gotta keep playing and believing。”

Come Sunday, Williams is scheduled to play 22nd-seeded Petra Martic. Far more important to Williams is her daughter, Alexis Olympia, who that day will turn two. 

“The toughest thing right now is being away from my daughter,” Williams said today. “That's the only thing that's tough. Like I said, some days when I'm away, because usually I'm with her, I can train really early in the morning and be done pretty early with my day, and I can just stay with her for the rest of the day.”

Williams this afternoon also recalled the concurrent joy of giving birth and the aftermath that nearly killed her. “Two years ago I had things attached to my arm, IVs, and it was a miracle that happened, having my baby,” she said. “It was really a great day for me. Then it all went downhill. It all went downhill after that for a good five days. But I'm here, and I'm going to be reflecting on my opponent more than anything.”   


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