When you are a 17-time major champion and two-time defending U.S. Open champion, it's silly to get excited about winning a third-round match. However, based on recent results in Grand Slam events, Serena Williams' win over Varvara Lepchenko was a huge step for her.
Williams hasn't won a major so far this year, losing in the second round at the French Open, third round at Wimbledon and fourth round at the Australian Open. Based on those results, this does signal progress for the top-ranked women's player.
Here's the score recap from Williams' impressive win:
|Player||1st Set||2nd Set|
There was a moment where it appeared Williams might be in trouble again. She held a 3-2 lead in the first set, but Lepchenko won a long rally in the sixth game to tie it up, as you can see in the video from the U.S. Open's official Twitter feed:
It was at that moment Williams kicked things into gear. She won the next three games to take the first set and never looked back. Even though Lepchenko took a 3-2 lead in the second set, the wily veteran didn't feel like she was in trouble this time around.
Now, as noted by ESPN Tennis' Twitter feed, Williams is inching closer to making history at the U.S. Open:
There is a focus to Williams in the U.S. Open that wasn't there in France or England, which is something that she acknowledged after her second-round win over Vania King, via ESPN.com:
You always hear about who is winning, who is losing. You hear about upsets. But for me, especially lately, I have to worry about my first round, my second round, and my third round. I can't get too far ahead of myself.
I was a casualty (of being a top seed losing early) before, so ... I can't make anything of it. At this point, I'm trying to stay alive.
Who will win the 2014 U.S. Open?
Even the best athletes need a reminder that things won't be given to them just because they have won a lot in the past. Williams goes through lapses where we all question whether she's still worthy of being the No. 1 seed, then she puts it all together in a big tournament to remind you why everyone is chasing her.
Williams is playing an event she has won five times, including each of the last two years, so her confidence should be as high as it has been this year. She is looking more like the best player on the planet, having not lost a set through three matches.
With other high seeds dropping left and right—No. 3 Petra Kvitova was the latest to fall on Saturday, losing to Aleksandra Krunic in straight sets—Williams' path to another U.S. Open title looks easier by the day.
All she has to do is avoid the banana peel that has seemed to find her at the most inopportune times this season.
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