Defending champion Sloane Stephens was made to work to book a high profile third round clash with Victoria Azarenka. In the men’s draw, 2015 winner Stan Wawrinka continued his comeback from injury with another win.Stephens, from America, made heavy weather of her clash with Anhelina Kalinina until an unusual off-court intervention.
“It was super hot, which was not fun at all,” Stephens said, after a gruelling 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 win that lasted almost three hours.
“But I’m just happy to be through. I just sat on the floor [in the 10-minute break], changed my outfit, had two bites of sushi, had some slushy [a sugary ice drink]. I came out in the third set, bounced around, was ready to go.”
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The American needed treatment on a blistered right hand in the second set as the crushing effect of 35-degree heat took its toll.
She wasn’t the only home favorite to progress, as Venus Williams brushed aside Camila Giorgi 6-4, 7-5 earlier on Wednesday. The victory puts her on course to play her younger sister in the next round, with Serena scheduled for one of the evening matches.
It wasn’t such good news for the Germans in the women’s draw. Ninth seed Julia Görges was disappointing in falling to Ekaterina Makarova of Russia in straight sets, while Görges’ compatriot Tatjana Maria suffered a similar fate against number 7 seed Elina Svitolina, of Ukraine. Angelique Kerber faces her second round match against Sweden’s Johanna Larsson on Thursday.
Swiss Stan books Raonic clash
Stan Warinka was unable to defend his crown last year, as the injuries that have seen him slide down the rankings took their toll. But the Swiss player extended his winning streak at Flushing Meadows to nine matches on Wednesday.
The 2016 champion battled past determined French qualifier Ugo Humbert, eventually winning 7-6 (7/5), 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 in the New York heat, which continues to cause issues for players and spectators alike.
“It’s never easy to play and move your best when conditions are so tough,” said Wawrinka, who was frustrated by a shortage of the ice-filled towels players are using to cool off during the changeovers.
“I knew it would be a difficult match,” said the Swiss, who needed three hours and 21 minutes to complete the win. “He’s a young player. He qualified, he won his first match,” added the 33-year-old, who served for the match at 5-4 in the fourth only to be broken by the 20-year-old.
“I’m really happy with the victory,” added Wawrinka, who faces Canadian Milos Raonic for a place in the last 16.
mp (Reuters, DPA)