Thu | Aug 17, 2017

Serena on track for 23rd major

Published:Sunday | September 4, 2016 | 9:19 AM
Serena Williams (left) greets Johanna Larsson, of Sweden, after winning their third round match at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York yesterday.


NEW YORK (AP) — So about that inflamed right shoulder that was supposed to hinder Serena Williams at the U.S. Open as she seeks a record 23rd major title: It sure seems to be just fine.

"Definitely feels solid," Williams said.

Not sure? There's plenty of evidence. No need to take her word — or her coach's — for it.

Look at the way Williams beat 47th-ranked Johanna Larsson 6-1, 6-1 yesterday to reach the fourth round at Flushing Meadows and collect the 307th Grand Slam match victory of her career, surpassing Martina Navratilova for most by a woman in the Open era and equalling Roger Federer for most by anyone since 1968.

Williams reached 121 mph on a serve. She had a half-dozen aces, bringing her total this week to 31. She faced only one break point — her first of the tournament — and saved it. She smacked seven return winners. She compiled a 24-5 total edge in winners.

"Tennis-wise, I think it was very satisfying in all aspects. It's not perfect, of course," said her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou. "But for someone who didn't play much matches in the last two months, I think she's competitive."

That sounds like bad news for upcoming opponents, starting with 52nd-ranked Yaroslava Shvedova, who advanced to the round of 16 in New York for the first time by beating Zhang Shuai 6-2, 7-5.

Tomorrow's other fourth-round women's matchups will be No. 5 Simona Halep vs. No. 11 Carla Suarez Navarro, No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Ana Konjuh, and No. 10 Karolina Pliskova against the winner of  Williams' older sister Venus and No. 26 Laura Siegemund. In that half of the draw, only the players with the last name Williams have won a Grand Slam title.

Two past men's champions, Andy Murray and Juan Martin del Potro, moved into the fourth round.

Murray, who won the 2012 U.S. Open, had trouble in each of the first two sets, but eventually became more patient during baseline exchanges and took control for a 7-6 (4), 5-7, 6-2, 6-3 victory over Paolo Lorenzi. Murray faces No. 22 Grigor Dimitrov in the round of 16.

Del Potro's resurgence continued with a 7-6 (3), 6-2, 6-3 victory over No. 11 David Ferrer. The 2009 champion in New York missed 2 1/2 years' worth of major tournaments because of three operations on his left wrist, and he's ranked only 142nd, which is why he needed a wild-card invitation to get into the field.

For a spot in the quarterfinals, Del Potro will now need to get past No. 8 Dominic Thiem, who defeated Pablo Carreno Busta 1-6, 6-4, 6-4, 7-5.

Williams is 4-0 against Shvedova, taking eight of nine sets. Shvedova is best known for the first "golden set" in the Open era, which began in 1968: She won all 24 points of the first set of a victory over Sara Errani at Wimbledon in 2012, one match before a three-set loss to Williams there.