Aug. 30, 2018, 9:26 p.m. (ET)
Taylor Fritz returns the ball during his men's singles first-round match at the 2018 US Open on Aug. 27, 2018 in Flushing, N.Y.

 

Americans continued to thrive during the second round of the US Open, with the defending women’s champion and two former champions with nine titles between the three moving on in Flushing, New York.

Third-ranked Sloane Stephens continued her title defense quest on Wednesday with a hard-fought 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 victory over 134th-ranked Anhelina Kalinina at Arthur Ashe Stadium. Stephens won her first Grand Slam title at last year’s US Open and on Friday will face two-time US Open finalist Victoria Azarenka.

Both Serena Williams and Venus Williams beat their second-round opponents on Wednesday to set up a third-round showdown against one another.

No. 17 Serena easily handled Germany’s Carina Witthöft, 6-2, 6-2, while No. 16 Venus beat Italy’s Camila Giorgi, 6-4, 7-5.

They will face each other for the 16th time in a Grand Slam and 30th time overall on Friday night. The last time they played each other at a Grand Slam was the final of the 2017 Australian Open.  Serena won while pregnant with her first child. Serena is vying for her seventh US Open title and Venus her third.

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2014 U.S. Youth Olympian Sofia Kenin also scored an upset victory over No. 32 Maria Sakkari, of Greece, on Wednesday as she came from behind to win 4-6, 6-1, 6-4.

On Thursday, 14th-ranked U.S. Olympian Madison Keys, who faced Stephens in last year’s final, dispatched fellow American Bernarda Pera, 6-4, 6-1, to continue her attempt to get back to the title match.

On the men’s side, only two remain.

No.11 John Isner struggled but ultimately prevailed in a five-set match against Chilean Nicolas Jarry, 6-7 (7), 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (2), 6-4, on Wednesday. His success follows a performance at Wimbledon in which he reached the semifinals before losing in a six-and-a-half hour match to South Africa’s Kevin Anderson. Isner will play Serbian Dusan Lajovic in the third round.

Rising star Taylor Fritz, 20, made it past the second round of a Grand Slam for the first time in his career after Australian Jason Kubler retired due to injury with the score 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 in favor of Fritz. He’ll now play Austria’s Dominic Thiem.

The last American man to win a Grand Slam was Andy Roddick at the US Open in 2003, a drought of 15 years.

Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.