US Open - Day 3: Serena turns back the clock, Medvedev marches on

Unsurprisingly Serena Williams was the headline act with blockbuster battles happening across the grounds at the 2022 US Open.

Serena Williams / 2e tour US Open 2022©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT
 - Alex Sharp

New York is a city that never sleeps and it feels that way at the 2022 US Open. There’s almost too much elite tennis to concentrate on!

The big names, the historic moments, the shocks, it’s all being served up at Flushing Meadows.

Serena “fun” factor delivers another delight

The second stop on the Serena Williams farewell tour in New York yielded another record night-session attendance.

29,959 fans surged to the Billie Jean King NTC to catch a glimpse of the Hall of Famer, even if it was outside on big screens. The atmosphere was palpable.

Another celebrity rich audience sat on the edge of their seats, frequently jumping from them to cheer on the 23-time major winner, as they witnessed a typical Williams thriller.

The 40-year-old didn’t play like someone ready to wave goodbye, the six-time US Open champion played like a title contender in a 7-6(4), 2-6, 6-2 triumph over world No.2 Anett Kontaveit.

“It's no rush here. I'm loving this crowd. Oh, my goodness, it's really fantastic. There's still a little left in me. We'll see, we'll see,” teased Williams. 

Make no mistake, Kontaveit, a player who relishes hard court tennis, was striking at a No.2 seed level. Serena, well, was Serena, despite competing in just her sixth singles match in 14 months. Find the highlights, sit back and enjoy.

The American icon wasn’t surprised by her game, joking in the on-court interview with a mischievous smile.

“I'm just Serena, you know, so... I'm a pretty good player,” said Williams, taking on Ajla Tomljanovic next. “This is what I do best. I love rising to the challenge.”

Expectations and pressure free, it’s time to relish the occasion.

“Honestly, I'm just looking at it as a bonus. I don't have anything to prove. I don't have anything to win. I have absolutely nothing to lose,” stated Serena. “I never get to play like this since '98 really. Literally, I've had an X on my back since '99. It's kind of fun.”

Prior to the Serena show, Coco Gauff dazzled once again to topple Elena-Gabriela Ruse 6-2, 7-6(4). It was the serve which caught the eye as the teenager booked an enticing third round versus fellow American Madison Keys.

“I did see the serve clock afterwards. I did see it said 128mph. I looked at it and I was like, ‘Whoa,’” said the 12th seed.

“I kind of looked at her after. I hit a couple good serves that game, like in the 120s. She was laughing at her box. I was like, I don't know what's going on either.”

Heavyweights land hits to claim the W

World No. 1 Daniil Medvedev cruised into the last 32 once again with a straight sets passage past France’s Arthur Rinderknech. 

The top seed moves on to face Chinese history-maker Yibing Wu, who moved into further unchartered territory with a five-set victory over Nuno Borges.

“In my opinion Rafa (Nadal) is big, let's call it like this. I don't want to say favourite, big favourite. He's definitely big figure in this tournament,” mused Medvedev with title talk already on the press agenda.

“Then for sure there are many other good guys. I'm happy to see my name sometimes in the odds or something like this because that means that I play some good tennis. Being amongst the favourites just brings me more motivation to try to do well.”

Daniil Medvedev / 2e tour US Open 2022©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

2012 champion Andy Murray used all his guile and ever-improving physical conditioning to reel in American debutant Emilio Nava 5-7. 6-3, 6-1, 6-0. The three-time major winner’s credentials for a deep run will be sternly examined in the third round by 13th seed Matteo Berrettini.

“I think obviously Andy now is in way better shape than he used to be, especially last year,” said the Italian.

“He's a legend of the sport. But feeling confident. I always like to play here, especially in big stages, big matches like the one I'm about to play.

“When you play Andy Murray, you're playing Andy Murray. You have to play your best tennis. I think it's going to be a tough one, but I'm ready.”

Murray was joined by fellow Brit Jack Draper, who wielded his mammoth left-handed strokes to dominate sixth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. The 20-year-old’s reward is a clash with Karen Khachanov next.

Nick Kyrgios took the telling points to head past Benjamin Bonzi in four sets to advance to a potentially explosive encounter with the gregarious American youngster J.J. Wolf. France’s Corentin Moutet is taking his lucky loser opportunity, with an impressive four set scoreboard with 2021 quarter-finalist Botic van de Zandschulp.

Andy Murray / 2e tour US Open 2022©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

Caro keeps on flying

How about this for a third round encounter? 2019 champion Bianca Andreescu clicked into a high gear to fend off 15th seed Beatriz Haddad Maia 6-2, 6-4. The Canadian advances to meet recent Cincinnati champion Caroline Garcia, who needed exactly an hour to brush aside Anna Kalinskaya 6-3, 6-1. 

"I actually like playing these tougher opponents because I think I'm more on my 'A' game when I play higher-ranked players, which is a good tendency but also a bad tendency because I want to be like that with whoever I play," declared Andreescu.

"And I also like to have tough draws because I feel like the victory is much sweeter in the end. Like, let's say I win the tournament and I have a tougher draw... I really like that."

Tunisian trailblazer Ons Jabeur was tested and more by American prodigy Elizabeth Mandlik, before her versatility chalked up a 7-5, 6-2 win. However, China’s Wang Xiyu overhauled No.3 seed Maria Sakkari 3-6, 7-5, 7-5 and in-form Liudmila Samsonova edged 2021 finalist Leylah Fernandez 6-3, 7-6(3) for a 12th consecutive match win.

Fabulous Day 4 feast

The action keeps on rolling in and Thursday is a brilliant Order of Play Stateside. 

World No.1 Iga Swiatek opens Arthur Ashe Stadium play in an intriguing contest with 2017 champion Sloane Stephens.

Carlos Alcaraz will hope to bring another mixture of hot shots to town for a clash with Argentina’s Federico Coria.  

The night session is headlined by the Williams sisters in doubles, which serves as a world class starter, before a mouthwatering main between Rafael Nadal and Fabio Fognini. 

Night session, New York. Who remembers 2015? Fognini reeled in Nadal from two sets down to cause a seismic shock on Arthur Ashe Stadium too. Will the 22-time Grand Slam champion fall to Fognini’s unpredictable powers again?

Elsewhere, Garbine Muguruza versus Czech rising star Linda Fruhvirtova could develop into a real treat. Also, there is a powerhouse battle between top-seed slayer Kaia Kanepi and No.6 seed Aryna Sabalenka.