Venus Williams and Kim Clijsters set up US Open showdown
Venus Williams and Kim Clijsters set up a US Open fourth-round clash after winning their tennis matches on Friday.
Williams defied a sore left knee to defeat Magdalena Rybarikova 6-2, 7-5 while Clijsters blasted past Kirsten Flipkens 6-0, 6-2.
Serena Williams also made it into the last 16 from the bottom half of the draw, beating Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez 6-3, 7-5. Next for Serena is Daniela Hantuchova, who eased past Vania King 6-2, 6-2.
Venus Williams showed glimpses of her best form against Rybarikova, especially in the first set, but she struggled at times on her serve and needed to battle back from a break down in the second to go through.
She leads Clijsters 6-4 in career meetings, but lost in three sets to her the last time they played in the quarter-finals of the 2005 Open, which Clijsters went on to win for her only Grand Slam title before she walked away from the sport in May, 2007.
Her return to competition could only be good for women’s tennis, the 29-year-old American said, but she insisted there would be no room for sentiment when they play each other.
“She’s been playing really well and I’ve been playing really well. Obviously it’s great to see her back, but I want to advance to the next round,” she said.
The 26-year-old Clijsters, playing in just her third tournament since her return, showed all her old shot-making skills and superb movement about the court as she outplayed Flipkens.
But Williams will represent her biggest challenge yet in her second coming and she expects a tough battle.
“I think she’s been a little bit up and down in her matches, but I think overall when she has to bring it she’s been able to bring it,” Clijsters said.
“That’s what they both have been really good at. They can really lift their level when they’re struggling.”