Venus Williams is out. Andy Roddick is retiring. And American teenagers Sloane Stephens and Jack Sock are moving on at the U.S. Open tennis championship.
The 32-year-old Williams, a two-time winner of the year’s final Grand Slam, matched her earliest exit in 14 career appearances in New York with a 2-6, 7-5, 5-7 loss last night against sixth-seeded Angelique Kerber of Germany. Serena Williams, 30, won in straight sets, as did Stephens, who is into the third round for the fourth time in her past five majors.
“All I had was fight because I didn’t play well,” Venus Williams, who let a 4-2 lead slip away in the third set said at a news conference. “Unfortunately I was fighting her and me. I didn’t help myself a lot, but I fought hard, I was trying hard. I was just making errors.”
Roddick, the last American man to win a major title at the 2003 U.S. Open, announced yesterday on his 30th birthday that he’ll retire after the tournament. His career could end in the second round tonight against Bernard Tomic at the National Tennis Center.
“It’s time,” Roddick said. “I don’t know that I’m healthy enough or committed enough to go another year. I’ve always wanted to, in a perfect world, finish at this event.”
Roddick said he appreciated the opportunity to be the face of men’s tennis in the U.S. since the retirement of Andre Agassi, while acknowledging the challenges it posed. Although he won more than $20 million and 32 tournament titles, the 2003 U.S. Open was his lone Grand Slam.
“It’s not something that’s easy every day, especially when you get kind of anointed at a young age, 17, 18,” Roddick said. “It’s something you roll with.”
The void left in American tennis when Roddick steps away may be filled by a fellow Nebraska native in the 19-year-old Sock, who cruised into the third round yesterday with a 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 win over Flavio Cipolla of Italy.
“He was a guy I watched growing up a lot, especially when he was winning this tournament and playing really well,” Sock said of Roddick. “He was definitely a guy I looked up to and idolized. It’s going to be a big loss to the tour.”
Five-time champion Roger Federer of Switzerland, 31, breezed into round three with a 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 win over Bjorn Phau of Germany. One of Roddick’s contemporaries on the men’s circuit, Federer said afterward he was sad to hear Roddick is retiring and that he’d be watching the match tonight.
The defending U.S. Open champions both play in Arthur Ashe Stadium today, as men’s No. 2 seed Novak Djokovic of Serbia faces Rogerio Dutra Silva of Brazil and Samantha Stosur of Australia, seeded seventh on the women’s side, meets No. 31 Varvara Lepchenko of the U.S.
In the other featured day match in Arthur Ashe Stadium, Maria Sharapova of Russia, the women’s No. 3 seed and 2006 champion, plays American amateur Mallory Burdette for a spot in the fourth round.
After Roddick takes the court in the first match of the night session in Ashe, women’s No. 1 seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus meets 28th-seeded Zheng Jie of China.
Also today, England’s Laura Robson, who knocked out three- time champion Kim Clijsters, faces No. 9 Li Na of China, and No. 5 Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic takes on Pauline Parmentier of France.
In the men’s draw, No. 9 John Isner of the U.S. plays Jarkko Nieminen of Finland, while fourth-seeded David Ferrer of Spain, No. 8 Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia, No. 13 Richard Gasquet of France, No. 14 Alexandr Dolgopolov of the Ukraine and No. 18 Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland are also in action.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga became the highest-ranked player ousted from the men’s draw yesterday, when the fifth-seeded Frenchman was beaten by Martin Klizan of Slovakia 4-6, 6-1, 1-6, 3-6.
Sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic won in straight sets, as did No. 15 Milos Raonic of Canada, No. 17 Kei Nishikori of Japan, No. 27 Sam Querrey of the U.S. and fellow American James Blake, who upset 24th-seeded Marcel Granollers of Spain.
No. 11 Nicolas Almagro of Spain, No. 12 Marin Cilic of Croatia and No. 23 Mardy Fish of the U.S. won in five sets, with Fish rallying from two sets down for a 4-6, 6-7 (4-7), 6-2, 6-1, 6-2 victory over two-time U.S. Open semifinalist Nikolay Davydenko of Russia. Gilles Simon, the No. 16 seed from France, and No. 25 Fernando Verdasco of Spain moved into the third round with four-set wins.
Agnieszka Radwanska, the women’s No. 2 seed from Poland, dropped a set against Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain before rallying to reach the third round for the third time in seven U.S. Open appearances. Serena Williams, a three-time U.S. Open champion, eased past Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez 6-2, 6-4 while Roddick was giving his retirement news conference.
Earlier in the day, Stephens, who said she counts Serena Williams as a close friend and mentor, pulled out a 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 win over German qualifier Tatjana Malek to set up a third- round meeting against 12th-seeded Ana Ivanovic of Serbia.
“She’s been playing well,” Serena Williams said of Stephens, 19. “She has so much potential.”
Ivanovic, No. 11 Sara Errani of Italy, No. 13 Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia and No. 14 Maria Kirilenko of Russia all won in straight sets yesterday to reach the third round.
In a match that ended after midnight, Venus Williams had 16 double faults and made 60 unforced errors to 25 for Kerber as her comeback attempt fell short. Kerber improved to 19-2 in three-set matches while Williams failed to get past the second round for her fourth straight major championship.
“Everybody was against me, but it doesn’t matter,” Kerber said in an on-court interview. “I just tried to focus on me, play my game plan, fighting every point until the last and I’m very happy to be in the third round.”
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