Serena Williams vs. Ajla Tomljanovic: Preview, TV Info for US Open 3rd-Round Matchup

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 2, 2022

ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

"I'm just Serena."

Those three words perfectly encapsulated the self-confidence that continues to permeate through one of the greatest tennis players of all time.

Serena Williams' run in the 2022 U.S. Open didn't end Wednesday night as she beat No. 2 seed Anett Kontaveit in three sets. That sets the stage for a third-round clash with Ajla Tomljanovic on Friday at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Match Info

When: Friday, Sept. 2, at 7 p.m. ET


Live Stream: ESPN+

When Kontaveit took the second set 6-2 against Williams, fans might have begun to grow a bit anxious. Serena narrowly claimed the first set in a tiebreaker, so the 40-year-old seemed to be losing steam at a rapid pace.

Then Williams stormed out to a 3-1 lead in the decisive frame, and Kontaveit suddenly was the one fighting against the tide.

"She really switched it on from there, yeah," she told reporters of Williams' performance in the final set. "I mean, I guess there's a few points here and there where I feel like I could have done better on my serve maybe. I mean, she was returning better. She was playing the rallies better. I felt like she did everything a little bit better in the third set."

Over the eight games, Williams had 13 winners to three for Kontaveit. It was like watching Peak Serena again.

ESPN @espn

SERENA WILLIAMS, ARE YOU SERIOUS⁉️<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/USOpen?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#USOpen</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/serenawilliams?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@serenawilliams</a> <a href="https://t.co/HkH6Uo7rYP">pic.twitter.com/HkH6Uo7rYP</a>

As she gets deeper into the tournament, fatigue becomes an obvious concern for Williams, and getting pushed to three sets won't help in that regard. By Friday, she'll be competing in her third match in as many days, too, after having opened her women's doubles account with sister Venus on Thursday—the pair were defeated in the first round by Lucie Hradecká and Linda Nosková.

It's equally plausible, though, that the 23-time Grand Slam champion becomes stronger as she goes on.

Williams was out for a year before she returned to Wimbledon in June, and she played a total of four matches over two months before the U.S. Open got underway. Now, she might finally be building the kind of sharpness she lacked earlier in the summer.

Tomljanovic won't be a pushover in the third round. Although the 29-year-old was a somewhat pedestrian 28-20 entering the U.S. Open, she beat Taylor Townsend and upset Paula Badosa in the first two rounds of the Western & Southern Open. She also took down Sloane Stephens in the City Open in early August.

In the second round against Evgeniya Rodina in Flushing Meadows, she overcame her 57 unforced errors by hitting nine aces and 32 winners.

Granted, her sloppy play doesn't bode well for her against Williams, and the atmosphere Tomljanovic will encounter inside Arthur Ashe Stadium will be unlike anything she has probably encountered before.

The fans in New York City will be doing everything they can to lift Willams into the fourth round.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.