NEW YORK: Serena Williams overcame a scary fall to maintain her pursuit of a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title at the US Open last last night while Roland Garros champion Ashleigh Barty and Karolina Pliskova crashed out in the last 16.
Williams, a six-time US Open winner, romped to a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Croatian 22nd seed Petra Martic to set up a quarter-final with China’s Wang Qiang, the conqueror of world number two Barty 6-2, 6-4.
“It’s a tough day at the office today. But it has been a year where we’ve hit our goals,” Barty said.
“We’ve had a great season in Grand Slams for singles. We’ve made the second week every single one, which has been really special.
“Now we’ll sit back, reflect, and look forward to a big couple months to finish off the year.”
Wang became the first Chinese player to reach the women’s quarter-finals since Peng Shuai made it to the last four in 2014.
“I think I’m really focused on the court, really enjoyed the way I played. I’m so happy I won,” said Wang, whose breakthrough run has been fuelled by the memory of her late coach, Peter McNamara.
“I think he has always been there with me.”
Wang had worked with McNamara since 2015 until the start of this year, when the Australian’s deteriorating health made it harder to travel, ending a partnership that coincided with her cracking the top 20 last season.
“He told me how to play the match. He took me to the professional tennis. So that’s how he taught me,” Wang said.
“He always believed in me. He told me I can be the top player.”
Meanwhile, Johanna Konta avenged her Rome final loss to Pliskova in May, beating the Czech third seed for just the second time in eight tries, 6-7 (1/7), 6-3, 7-5.
The British 16th seed has raised her game at the Slams this season, and is enjoying her best run at Flushing Meadows, having twice reached the fourth round.
“To go one step further is a massive achievement for me and I’m really hoping to make that one, two, three steps forward,” Konta said.
Konta has experienced middling fortunes on the WTA circuit while producing some of her best tennis at the majors, reaching the semi-finals at Roland Garros and then advancing to the last eight at Wimbledon last month.
“To make the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam for the third time this year is a massive achievement for me.”
Pliskova, the 2016 US Open runner-up, saw her hopes of returning to world number one this fortnight extinguished by the loss.
“She (Konta) played extremely well at some points. Of course, I had my chances, maybe the set and break. I didn’t play that well there,” Pliskova said.
“But I think overall she just went for it, she played more aggressive than maybe the matches what we played before.”