By Richard Kent, Staff Reporter
NEW YORK — It was billed as a battle of offense vs. defense.
And it was. Offense was the big winner at the US Open today as Serena Williams fended off a one set deficit to defeat former winner Sloane Stephens, 2-6, 6-2, 6-2.
Williams, a six-time U.S. Open champion, got off to a characteristically slow start, but roared back, winning 10 out of the last 12 games. The sixth game of the second set proved to be pivotal.
Stephens came out in the match looking comfortable and was on serve at 2-3 in the second set when Williams broke her in a game of battles of the will.
The two keys for Williams throughout were both her serve and perhaps more importantly her calm, despite building a big first set deficit. Williams hit 12 aces and ripped a 122 mph serve.
Her first and second serves in the second and third sets found the corners with abandon. She was serving out wide and had Stephens befuddled with her returns.
It was the 43rd time in Williams’ career in which she fought back from a one set deficit in a Major and won. Williams, who turns 39 in three weeks, will play 15th-seeded Maria Sakkari on Monday.
Sakkari defeated her in three sets last week at the Western & Southern Open, which was played at the US Open site. The players have split their two previous meetings.