Serena Williams continued her pursuit of a third consecutive U.S. Open title Thursday with a convincing 6-1, 6-0 victory in straight sets over fellow American Vania King.
The world's top player wasn't at her best, but she was also never truly tested throughout the match. In the end, Serena backed up her status as the odds-on favorite to reign supreme in New York City.
With this win, Williams is averaging just one lost game per match over her past six outings, according to ESPN Stats & Info:
Serena Williams improves to 15-0 in the @usopen 2nd Round, losing a total of 6 games in her last 6 matches.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 28, 2014
Serena has had a difficult year by her standards with no Grand Slam titles to her credit. After getting upset by lesser opponents at the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon, Williams decided to take a more simplistic approach entering the U.S. Open, per The Associated Press (via USA Today).
"I've decided I'm not going to overthink it. I think I've overthought every Grand Slam so far this year. It didn't really work out great for me," Williams said. "So worst-case scenario, I'm just going to stay positive and do the best I can. That's all I can do."
Entering the match Williams most definitely had history on her side having lost in the second round at a Grand Slam just twice, according to ESPN Tennis:
Serena Williams takes court against fellow American Vania King. The World No.1 is 53-2 in 2nd rd matches at Majors. pic.twitter.com/GOM3abK7ll— ESPNTennis (@ESPNTennis) August 28, 2014
Most expected Serena to blow away the much smaller King with her unmatched power, and that certainly was the case at times. With that said, she had trouble finding her rhythm on serve early in the contest.
That was somewhat surprising considering how dominant Williams was in that regard against Taylor Townsend in the first round, according to Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated:
Stat to watch when Serena plays : through one match she's lost five points on serve. Total.— Jon Wertheim (@jon_wertheim) August 28, 2014
Perhaps the biggest culprit behind Serena's uneven serving was the wind, which whipped through Arthur Ashe Stadium throughout the match and made things difficult for both players.
After breaking King with ease to start the match, Serena's first service game was quite an adventure. Williams double-faulted three times and King even earned a break point, but the 17-time Grand Slam winner managed to stave it off and hold serve.
King got on the board during the ensuing service game, but her 32-year-old opponent went into cruise control for the remainder of the first set.
Serena reeled off four consecutive games to take the opening set 6-1 in less than a half-hour of play, per ESPN Tennis:
As one-sided as the first set was, things got even worse for King in the second. In fact, King won only four points on serve as Williams pitched a shutout and put King away with a 6-0 set.
Williams entered this tournament with the expectation that she would win her sixth U.S. Open title regardless of the draw. With that said, things are shaping up quite nicely for her.
Ana Ivanovic is a player who is currently in good form and could have given Williams some issues, but she fell in the second round and gave Serena a reprieve in the process, according to Ben Rothenberg of The New York Times:
Pliskova powers past No8 Ivanovic 7-5, 6-4. Another great lead-up fizzles at a Slam for Ana this year. Opens up Serena's quarter. #usopen— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) August 28, 2014
How will Serena ultimately fare at the 2014 U.S. Open?
Former U.S. Open titlist Samantha Stosur could provide a test in the fourth round, but aside from that Williams should be free and clear until a potential semifinal meeting with either reigning Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova or two-time U.S. Open finalist Victoria Azarenka.
As long as Serena continues to play close to her best, it is difficult to imagine anyone stopping her at this point. Williams has likely learned a lot from her Grand Slam failures this year, and she seems determined to avoid another letdown.
Serena going the entire season without a Grand Slam title is almost unfathomable. It is still a possibility, but all the pieces are in place for Williams to put an end to her major struggles.
After watching Serena dominate in each of the first two rounds, there isn't a player in the draw who is eager to cross her path.
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