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Swiatek cruises past Stephens


Swiatek cruises past Stephens
Iga Swiatek makes a forehand return during her match against Sloane Stephens - Reuters

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NEW YORK CITY – World No. 1 Iga Swiatek chipped away at the defensive play of American Sloane Stephens to roll into the third round of the United States Open tennis championship with a 6-3, 6-2 win on Thursday on her Arthur Ashe Stadium debut.

The 2017 champion Stephens saved eight of 12 break points, but once again could not fend off the Pole’s offensive barrage after losing to her in straight sets last month in the Cincinnati third round.

Swiatek, who collected her second Roland Garros title this year amid an extraordinary 37-match winning streak, sent 14 winners over the net – twice as many as her opponent – and won more than three-quarters of her first-serve points.

Playing on the court where she watched 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams as a junior, Swiatek traded breaks with Stephens early in the first set before converting on the fourth try in the fourth game.

She pounced on the momentum when the serve of Stephens deteriorated in the second set, winning the first four games and pumping her fist after forcing the American into a backhand error to close out the affair.

Swiatek is the last of the top four seeds remaining at Flushing Meadows after world No. 2 Anett Kontaveit lost to Williams on Wednesday, and hard-hitting Greek Maria Sakkari and  Paula Badosa of Spain also fell in the second round.

She is not generating the level of buzz expected for a top-ranked player chasing a third major title with the farewell party of Williams the top story at the tournament.