Regular service

Top seeds,including Djokovic,Murray and Serena,stay on course at the US Open.

Written by Julian Linden | New York | Published:September 3, 2013 3:05 am

Serena Williams easily won her eagerly-awaited clash with Sloane Stephens at the US Open on Sunday as normal service resumed at the last grand slam of year. Williams was one of four US Open champions that won on Sunday,sending a clear message to the next generation of rising stars that they will have to wait their turn.

The 31-year-old avenged her loss to Stephens at the Australian Open with an emphatic 6-4 6-1 victory to keep her title defence on course. “It’s definitely difficult,especially playing people that you like,that you always want to see do well,” Williams said. “But you have to go out there and kind of put that to the side and realize,I want to do well myself and take every point as it comes.”

Defending men’s champion Andy Murray and world number one Novak Djokovic also won in straight sets,while 2001 winner Lleyton Hewitt turned back the clock,reaching the fourth round for the first time since 2006. Murray,playing on a hot and steamy day,needed less than two hours to see off Germany’s Florian Mayer 7-6 (2) 6-2 6-2 and advance to the fourth round.

Djokovic was even more ruthless in his center court night match against Portugal’s Joao Sousa,cruising to a 6-0 6-2 6-2 win,while 32-year-old Hewitt wore down Russia’s Evgeny Donskoy 6-3 7-6 (5) 3-6 6-1. “Obviously when you’ve been to the top you want to keep playing,” said Hewitt,who stunned sixth seed Juan Martin del Potro in the previous round. “The reason you’re playing is for the majors,and for me,Davis Cup as well. That’s the reason I’m still playing.”

The biggest surprise on a day when most results went as expected was the defeat of women’s third seed Agnieszka Radwanska. The Pole,who had made it to the quarter-finals or better at the three other grand slams this year,crumbled to a 6-4 6-4 defeat by Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova after she had won the first four games of the match.

Makarova wil play China’s Li Na after Asia’s top player accounted for Jelena Jankovic 6-3 6-0.

Oldest champion

Stephens beat Williams in January in the quarter-finals at Melbourne Park to enhance her standing as a future leader of U.S. women’s tennis,but was completely outgunned by a woman bidding to become the oldest to win the U.S. Open since tennis turned professional in 1968.

“Obviously she’s number one in the world for a reason,” said Stephens,11 years younger than Williams. “ All in all I thought I competed well and played well. That’s all you can do really.”

Williams will play Carla Suarez Navarro in the quarter-finals,the Spaniard having upset Germany’s eighth-seed Angelique Kerber 4-6 6-3 7-6 (3).

Murray struggled to impose himself on Mayer in the opening set but once he adapted to the humidity and gusting winds it was all smooth sailing. “It was tough conditions. It was very,very humid,” Murray said. “I was struggling breathing for most of the match.”

Murray’s opponent in the fourth round will be Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin,who beat Italy’s Andreas Seppi 6-3 6-4 2-6 3-6 6-1,with Tomas Berdych looming in the quarter-finals. Berdych,seeded fifth,made the semi-finals at last year’s US Open and has been in great form at Flushing Meadows,reaching the last 16 without dropping a set. The Czech dispatched Julien Benneteau of France 6-0 6-3 6-2 to set up a fourth-round clash with Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka,who defeated Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus 6-3 6-2 6-7 (1) 7-6 (7). —REUTERS

Bhupathi to play on until Wimbledon 2014

A week before the US Open commenced,Mahesh Bhupathi tweeted the rising price of rupee against the dollar may force him to play on the tour for another year. Bhupathi said that in a lighter vein but the 39-year-old has decided against hanging his boots at the end of this season and to continue playing on the tour till Wimbledon 2014.

The doubles ace quashed reports that he has played his final Grand Slam of his career after being ousted from the ongoing US Open.Bhupathi had said last December that 2013 would be his final year on the tour. Subsequently,Bhupathi’s exit from the tennis major at Flushing Meadows in New York was seen as his last appearance at a Grand Slam. He,however,told The Indian Express that he will carry on playing till next year’s Wimbledon but did not specify the reasons for changing his mind. —MIHIR VASAVDA

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