Serena through to last 16 as fresh controversy hits US Open | Daily News

Serena through to last 16 as fresh controversy hits US Open

NEW YORK: Serena Williams battled into the US Open last 16 Saturday as the tournament endured fresh controversy after New York health officials ordered the women's top doubles pairing be withdrawn over coronavirus restrictions.

Williams, chasing a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title, came from a set down to oust 2017 champion Sloane Stephens 2-6, 6-2, 6-2, in what she called an “intense” encounter on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

“In that first set I don't think she made any errors, honestly. She was just playing so clean and I just said, 'I don't want to lose in straight sets,'” said Williams.

With spectators barred from this year's Flushing Meadows event due to the pandemic, second and fourth seeds Sofia Kenin and Naomi Osaka took advantage of suites they have been assigned to check out the competition.

“It's cool us players can watch each other. It's interesting, I like it,” said Williams, who will play 15th seed Maria Sakkari for a place in the quarter-finals. The Greek player, who stunned Williams at the Western & Southern Open last month, progressed with a 6-3, 6-1 dismantling of America's 22nd seed Amanda Anisimova.

Off the court, number one seeds Kristina Mladenovic and Timea Babos were yanked from the women's doubles competition after Mladenovic was instructed to quarantine for coming in contact with French compatriot Benoit Paire, who tested positive for COVID-19 last weekend.

“All persons who were identified as having prolonged close contact with the infected player will quarantine in their rooms for the remainder of their quarantine period,” the United States Tennis Association said in a statement. AFP