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NEW YORK – Angelique Kerber won a matchup of past US Open champions as she was Sloane Stephens (5-7, 6-2, 6-3) in the third round of the US Open on Friday.
The reward for Kerber, who was placed in 16th place? A potential appointment with the third-placed and defending champion Naomi Osaka.
Kerber, the 2016 master, was ruthless in the third set to take out the 2017 master, Stephens.
Kerber defeated Stephens for the second time in seven career matches. 33-year-old Kerber won for the second day in a row and laughed when she said she could take advantage of Saturday off.
Garbine Muguruza and Simona Halep mastered the grass at Wimbledon and conquered the sand at the French Open.
The two-time Grand Slam winner won three sets and reached the fourth round of the last Grand Slam tournament of the year.
Muguruza beat the three-time US Open finalist Victoria Azarenka with 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 and achieved her best performance in New York.
The Spaniard, seeded number 9, reached the round of 16 in 2017, right after she had won her Wimbledon title. She hadn’t gotten past the second round since then, but said she always enjoyed playing in New York despite her problems.
The same goes for Halep, who fought his way through a tiebreaker in the first set of the marathon and eventually defeated Elena Rybakina (7-6 (11), 4-6, 6-3) to finish fourth for the first time since 2016 Round of the US Open.
Daniil Medvedev had it a lot easier because he had the entire first week. The second placed and runner-up in 2019 defeated Pablo Andujar 6-0, 6-4, 6-3 and lost only 22 games in three rounds.
Muguruza and Halep were finalists at the Australian Open, which were also played on a hard court. But the US Open had proven to be a harder puzzle for both of them – harder than Halep had even realized.
During her post-game interview on the pitch, she said it was good to play this late at the US Open for the first time in three years. Her brother sent her a message that it actually took two years longer.
Halep had lost in the first round in both 2017 and ’18 – the latter was the first time the number 1 had happened in the first round at the US Open – and her success this time was hard to expect after she missed Wimbledon and the French Open with a calf injury.
The Romanian seeded at number 12 needed seven setpoints to finally win the tiebreaker – after she broke with love on serve for the set 6-5.
She finally won it when Rybakina, seeded 19th, made a double mistake and then made her way to the round of 16 for the first time since reaching the quarter-finals in 2016.
« I know every game is a fight, » said Halep. « But I’m there and when I’m healthy I’m confident that I can play my game. »
Muguruza will next play against number 8 seeded Barbora Krejcikova, the French Open winner, who is going into the fourth round of her debut in the main draw of the US Open.
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