Photo by USOpen.org
By Lisa Zimmerman
The sun was shining brightly for the first match of the day in Arthur Ashe Stadium between No. 8 seed Serena Williams of the United States and No. 10 seed Marion Bartoli of France. Williams got the win, 6-4, 6-4, and became the first woman to advance to this year’s quarterfinals.
Williams, the 1999 and 2001 US Open women’s champion, has yet to lose a set in this year’s tournament.
The match opened with Bartoli breaking Williams in the first game, and she continued to look sharp, taking the next game, as well, serving up two aces. The 25-year-old Williams then turned on a switch and fired off a couple aces of her own.
“I think the key was definitely being able to hold serve,” said Williams after the match. “[Bartoli] has a good return and she was actually serving better, I thought today, than she had in maybe some Wimbledons. I thought her serves were much faster.”
With her two-handed backhand and two-handed forehand, the Frenchwoman displayed powerful shots but stuttered a bit in the middle of the set, allowing the match to get back on serve.
Williams showed why she is an eight-time Grand Slam champion, digging in and coming up with big points, usually off her serve.
“With Serena she just elevates her game when she needs to,” said Bartoli. “She’s not obviously trying to play the hardest on every point. She just waits for the great moment, and then goes for it and plays some great shots when she really needs to.”
Bartoli, with an eagle eye, challenged two calls in the first set, both of which were overturned. They were two of four total challenges in the match – only one of which ended up standing as called.
Up 4-3 in the first with Bartoli on serve, Williams tried for what looked like an easy drop shot but misfired and sent the ball into the net, as the packed crowd groaned loudly. The women had several baseline slugfests, but it was a quick-hitting net volley during which the ball never hit the ground that fully ignited the stadium.
As the match wore on, Williams became steadier, and Bartoli became less so. Williams clearly had no intention of being ousted in the fourth round, as she was last year, and in no-nonsense fashion, she closed out the match.