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Serena Williams, Sloane Stephens Lead American Charge At Australian Open

By Blythe Lawrence | Jan. 19, 2019, 10 a.m. (ET)

Sloane Stephens celebrates at the Australian Open on Jan. 18, 2019 in Melbourne.


Four-time Olympic gold medalist Serena Williams, Sloane Stephens and a surging Frances Tiafoe are among the six U.S. tennis stars still alive at the Australian Open in Melbourne.

Williams, the 16th seed in Melbourne, will face world No. 1 Simona Halep of Romania in the fourth round Sunday after Halep ejected Williams’ older sister Venus from the tournament in the third 6-2, 6-3. That dashed hopes of an all-Williams battle for the title, which would have been a repeat of the 2017 final that Serena won while newly pregnant with daughter Alexis Olympia.

Serena Williams has shown consistency so far in Melbourne, opening the tournament with an easy 6-0, 6-2 win over Tatjana Maria of Germany and following with a 6-2, 6-2 takedown of Canadian Eugenie Bouchard and finally a third-round victory over Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine 6-2, 6-1. Williams and Halep have met nine times in their careers, and Williams has come away victorious in eight of those meetings. 

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Stephens, the highest-seeded American in this tournament at No. 5, survived Croatia’s Petra Martic and will face Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova for a place in quarterfinals. Stephens, the 2017 U.S. Open champion and 2016 Olympian, beat the skilled Croatian with a hard-fought 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5) victory. Stephens defeated U.S. teammate Taylor Townsend in the first round and eliminated Hungary’s Timea Babos in the second.

Madison Keys, seeded 17th, advanced with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Elise Mertens of Belgium and will meet sixth-seeded Elina Svitolina of Ukraine. Amanda Anisimova beat Aryna Sabalenka 6-3, 6-2 and faces eighth-seeded Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic, while Danielle Collins knocked off 19th-seeded Caroline Garcia of France 6-3, 6-2. Collins faces second-seeded Angelique Kerber of Germany next.

After upsetting fifth-seeded Kevin Anderson of South Africa in the second round, Frances Tiafoe continued to build a name for himself on one of tennis’ biggest stages. The 20-year-old, ranked 39th, beat Andreas Seppi of Italy in the third round 6-7 (3), 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, setting up a match against Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov, the 20th seed, on Sunday, which is Tiafoe’s 21st birthday. 

Taylor Fritz was beaten by third-seeded Roger Federer 6-2, 7-5, 6-2. No American man has won the tournament since Andre Agassi in 2003.

The Australian Open concludes January 27.

Blythe Lawrence is a journalist based in Seattle. She has covered two Olympic Games and is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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