NEW YORK (AP):
Serena Williams avenged her major loss to Sloane Stephens, pulling away from the young American for a 6-4, 6-1 win to return to the United States Open quarter-finals.
Stephens beat a hobbling Williams in the quarters of the Australian Open in January.
"She's definitely a good player, so it felt like something bigger, but I just had to stay focused for the moment," Williams said in an on-court interview.
In the rematch yesterday, the 16-time Grand Slam champion served big and controlled points against the 20-year-old. From 4-4 in the first set, Williams won eight of the last nine games.
The 15th-seeded Stephens hung with the defending champ for most of the first set. After Williams broke to go up 4-2, she broke right back.
Serving at 4-5, Stephens had six of her 29 unforced errors. She was able to save two set points, but twice failed to capitalise when she had a chance to close out the game.
Williams takes over
When Stephens hit a forehand wide, Williams had the set, and she took over from there.
"Obviously, she's No. 1 in the world for a reason," Stephens said. "I thought she played really well herself. Obviously, it didn't go how I wanted. The second set got away from me a little bit. All in all, I thought I competed well and played well. That's all you can do, really."
Williams will face 18th-seeded Carla Suarez Navarro, who needed 2 hours, 41 minutes to edge eighth-seeded Angelique Kerber 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3).
Earlier on a humid day at Arthur Ashe Stadium, defending men's champion Andy Murray staggered around the court between points.
Once a point started, he sprinted down every ball, as usual. Struggling with his breathing, Murray needed a set to find his rhythm against 47th-ranked Florian Mayer, then rolled the rest of the way to a 7-6 (2), 6-2, 6-2 victory in the third round.
It was here a year ago that he cured 76 years of tennis misery for Britain, its first men's Grand Slam winner since 1936. Then back home for Wimbledon in July he ended its drought there, too, with the first title in 77 years.
He'll next face 65th-ranked Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan, who won a five-setter against No. 20-seeded Andreas Seppi 6-3, 6-4, 2-6, 3-6, 6-1.
Fifth-seeded Tomas Berdych played his match on the Grandstand, the third-largest stadium at the US Open. In a sport dominated by four players, Berdych is easily overlooked. But he is cruising so far at Flushing Meadows, where he reached the semi-finals last year after beating Roger Federer.
The Czech routed No. 31-seeded Julien Benneteau 6-0, 6-3, 6-2 and has yet to drop a set at this year's US Open.
Berdych, who lost to Rafael Nadal in the 2010 Wimbledon final, will face ninth-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka in the round of 16.
Wawrinka beat Marcos Baghdatis 6-3, 6-2, 6-7 (1), 7-6 (7).
Lleyton Hewitt, the 2001 U.S. Open champ, returned to the round of 16 at Flushing Meadows for the first time since 2006. At age 32, the Australian is back from years of injuries to make another run. He beat 102nd-ranked Evgeny Donskoy 6-3, 7-6 (5), 3-6, 6-1.