Williams, Osaka and Konta storm into third round as defending champion Keys gets knocked out of Western & Southern Open
Tennis stars Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka and Johanna Konta have all reached the Round of 16 at the WTA’s Western & Southern Open.
Williams, 38, won 7-6(6) 3-6 7-6(0) against Dutch qualifier Arantxa Rus.
Rus put up a strong fight which forced 23-time grand slam winner Williams to dig deep in a thrilling two hours and 48 minutes on Grandstand court.
Williams saved a set point in the first set tie-break before dropping the second.
In the third the American saved four break points and sailed through sudden death without dropping a point.
She said afterwards: "Now I feel like I have passed that test, and now I can pass the test at the Open, playing Ashe Stadium.
"At one point I was pumping my fist and saying, 'Come on!' I had a crowd in my head or something! It was actually funny to me. I don't know. For me, it was like there was a crowd there.
“Physically I feel like I'm incredibly fit. I did hit a wall today in the second set. I was so hot. That never happens. Tennis is mental. You know, it's all mental.”
She will next face No 13 seed Maria Sakkari.
Osaka of Japan earned victory against Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic in what was her first WTA singles match since March.
The 22 year-old won 6-7(5) 6-4 6-2 with 28 winners, including 12 aces.
She said: "I feel like I just learned a lot throughout the entire course of the match, and hopefully it's something that I can do at a quicker time rate.
“I think the difference [between winning and losing] was probably attitude.”
The world No 10 will play No 16 seed Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine in the next round.
British No 1 Johanna Konta won 6-2 6-0 over Kirsten Flipkens without facing a single break point throughout the match.
The 29 year-old suffered heart palpitations two weeks ago during the WTA’s Lexington Open, but has since bounced back.
She said: "Obviously I'm really pleased to have gotten a win.
“The first one since Monterrey, which was...six months ago, a long time ago. I'm definitely pleased to have set up another opportunity for me to play tomorrow.”
She will go head-to-head with Russian Vera Zvonareva next.
Elsewhere, Ons Jabeur from Tunisia knocked out defending champion Madison Keys in straight sets 6-4 6-1 in under an hour of play.
Earlier this year she became the first Arab woman to reach the quarter-finals at a major at the Australian Open.
She said: “It was a really good match for me, I had to really play good and I served really good.”
Jabeur will take on qualifier Christina McHale in the next round.
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