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Facing Serena not easy for Open opponents who look up to her


NEW YORK (AP) — The following lady who should cope with the daunting activity of playing Serena Williams at the U.S. Open, Ajla Tomljanovic, considers herself an admirer of the 23-time Grand Slam champion.

“I’ve been a Serena fan,” Tomljanovic stated, “since I used to be a child.”

Tomljanovic, an Australian who’s 29, will face Williams, who turns 41 subsequent month, for the primary time on Friday night time — in entrance of what’s certain to be another exuberant and partisan full house — within the third spherical at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

“She type of has that aura, like Roger (Federer), Rafa (Nadal), and deservedly so,” Tomljanovic stated. “I all the time get completely satisfied when she says ‘Hello’ to me.”

Tomljanovic recalled watching on TV as Williams received main trophies. Additionally tuning in over time — however by no means throughout the online from Williams in a match till this U.S. Open — was the participant Williams beat within the second spherical on Wednesday, No. 2 seed Anett Kontaveit, who’s 26. Similar for the participant Williams beat in the first round on Monday, Danka Kovinic, who’s 27.

This isn’t why Williams is successful these contests in what is anticipated to be the final match of her profession, nevertheless it certain can’t damage.

Should not be simple to attempt to defeat somebody whose success is oh-so-familiar, somebody you regarded as much as earlier than you turned professional your self, somebody you admire to this present day.

“Oh, it elements in quite a bit. Once I was younger, I knew I needed to beat members of a sure technology to maneuver up. And Serena’s all the time been the one to beat,” stated Billie Jean King, the Corridor of Famer who received 12 Grand Slam singles titles within the Nineteen Sixties and Nineteen Seventies, plus one other 27 in ladies’s doubles and combined doubles.

“It could work in your favor in case you thrive on taking part in the most effective participant ever and it’ll assist your profession in case you win,” King stated in a phone interview Thursday. “However the different aspect of the coin is, ‘Oh, no! I’ve to play her?’ And with the gang, the historical past, you actually must attempt to embrace the scenario and the event.”

That actually is just not simple.

Particularly when Williams is taking part in in addition to she did towards Kontaveit, notably within the moments that mattered probably the most within the 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-2 victory — the first-set tiebreaker and the third set.

“Nicely,” Williams stated with amusing, “I’m a fairly good participant.”

Certain is.

And her opponents certain realize it, in fact.

Again when Williams and her older sister Venus — they had been scheduled to play within the first spherical of doubles collectively Thursday night time — had been swapping the No. 1 rating the best way different siblings may share clothes and assembly one another in 9 all-in-the-family finals at Grand Slam tournaments, they usually took the courtroom with one thing of a bonus that went past their appreciable skills.

Another gamers had been merely in awe.

So regardless that Williams performs much less, and wins much less, these days than she used to in her heyday — her 2022 document was 1-3 earlier than this week — take heed to what Kovinic needed to say about studying she was drawn to face the American at Flushing Meadows: “I used to be completely satisfied. I received’t lie. I’m honored to play towards her, by no means thoughts whether or not I win or lose. It’s a privilege to share the courtroom with Serena.”

How did that go? Williams received 6-3, 6-3.

Here’s what Kontaveit’s ideas had been when her matchup towards Williams was assured: “I’m actually excited. I used to be actually rooting for her to (advance to the second spherical). I’ve by no means performed towards her. I imply, that is the final probability. Higher late than by no means.”

Kovinic and the Forty sixth-ranked Tomljanovic expressed related sentiments.

Jessica Pegula, a 28-year-old American who’s seeded No. 8 in New York and received Thursday to achieve the third spherical, performed Williams as soon as, shedding to her within the closing of a match at Auckland, New Zealand, in January 2020.

“I knew it was an enormous second. … I felt OK, however then as soon as we began taking part in and you might type of really feel her energy — and really feel her hitting a winner, coming at you, serving — I feel that’s if you’re like, ‘Oh, wow, I’m taking part in Serena,’” Pegula stated. “I feel all of us type of have these moments for the primary time.”


Extra AP protection of U.S. Open tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/us-open-tennis-championships and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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