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Angelique Kerber overcomes Sloane Stephens in showdown of past US Open champions

Angelique Kerber overcomes Sloane Stephens in showdown of past US Open champions


Angelique Kerber won a matchup of previous US Open champions Friday, while Garbine Muguruza and Simona Halep may finally have the answers for the hard courts of the year’s final Grand Slam tournament.

Kerber, the 2016 champion, was ruthless in the third set to knock out 2017 champion Sloane Stephens 5-7, 6-2, 6-3 and reach the fourth round.

The 16th-seeded Kerber beat Stephens for only the second time in seven career matchups. The 33-year-old Kerber won for the second straight day and laughed when she said she could use the day off Saturday, though a potential date with No. 3 seed and defending champion Naomi Osaka.

Muguruza beat three-time US Open finalist Victoria Azarenka 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 to match her best showing in New York, and Halep fought through a marathon first-set tiebreaker and eventually beat Elena Rybakina 7-6 (11), 4-6, 6-3 to reach the fourth round for the first time since 2016.


The No. 9 seed from Spain, Muguruza reached the round of 16 in 2017, right after winning her Wimbledon title. She hadn’t been past the second round since, although she said she always liked playing in New York despite her struggles.

“This year so far it’s working, so I just want to keep going,” Muguruza said.

Halep had lost in the US Open first round in 2017 and 2018 — the latter the first time that had happened to the No. 1 seed in the first round at the tournament — and her success this time was tough to expect after she missed Wimbledon and the French Open with a calf injury.

The No. 12 seed, who is from Romania, needed seven set points to finally win the tiebreaker after she was broken at love when serving for the set at 6-5.

She eventually won it when 19th-seeded Rybakina double-faulted then worked her way to the round of 16 for the first time since reaching the quarterfinals in 2016.


“I know that every match is a battle,” Halep said. “But I’m there, and if I’m healthy, I’m confident that I can play my game.”

French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova is also into the fourth round in her US Open debut. The Czech player, who is seeded eighth, beat Kamilla Rakhimova 6-4, 6-2 to set up a fourth-round meeting with Muguruza.

Krejcikova improved to 41-11 this season. Only top-ranked Ash Barty (42-7) has more wins in main draw matches on the women’s tour.

No. 5 Elina Svitolina also defeated No. 25 Daria Kasatkina 6-4, 6-2.

No. 3 seed Osaka, who won her second US Open title last year, was expected to be back on the court for the first time since the first night of the tournament to face Leylah Fernandez in a third-round match.


Osaka received a walkover into the third round when opponent Olga Danilovic withdrew Wednesday with a viral illness unrelated to COVID-19.