Serena Bounces Back, Advances To 4th Round At U.S. Open

Serena Williams of the United States celebrates after winning over Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova during their Women's singles quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2009. (AP Photo/Rick Stevens)
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NEW YORK (AP) -- Seeking her third Grand Slam victory of the year, Serena Williams withstood a strong test Friday from Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez to advance to the fourth round of the U.S. Open.

Williams overcame an early break in the second set to win 6-3, 7-5 and received a gift in the 11th game when Martinez Sanchez double-faulted twice in a row after the players reached deuce for the eighth time.

This was a rematch of a third-round meeting in the French Open, which Williams won in three sets. After that match, Williams said she hit a ball she thought went off her opponent's arm, and accused Martinez Sanchez of cheating by not acknowledging it.

Asked about that incident before this match, Williams again said: "It hit her."

But there were no signs of animosity during their rematch on a cloudless, comfortable, 80-degree afternoon at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Martinez Sanchez is ranked 43rd in the world. Known mainly as a doubles player, the left-handed Spaniard offers a refreshing change of pace by playing almost all serve-and-volley. It made for a more difficult test for Williams, who had lost only seven total games in her first two matches.

Williams, seeking her fourth U.S. Open title, next meets 22nd-seeded Daniela Hantuchova, who defeated American Vania King 6-2, 6-2.

Tenth-seeded Flavia Pennetta also moved on Friday, defeating Aleksandra Wozniak of Canada, 6-1, 6-1. No. 8 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus fell to No. 26 Francesca Schiavone of Italy, 4-6, 6-2, 6-2. Kim Clijsters, the 2005 champion who is returning to tennis after a two-year retirement, had a third-round match Friday afternoon against another Belgian, Kirsten Flipkens.

The men's draw continued to go almost strictly to form, with No. 6 Juan Martin del Potro and No. 7 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga each winning in straight sets. With the third round nearly complete, none of the top 10 seeded men has lost a set.

"It was a quick match. I played great," Tsonga said after his 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 win over Finland's Jarkko Nieminen.

No. 16 Marin Cilic and No. 24 Juan Carlos Ferrero also won. Cilic overcame a two-set deficit to defeat 135th-ranked American Jesse Levine.

"When it got to the third set, he really stepped up his game," Levine said.

Americans Taylor Dent and Robby Ginepri were scheduled for later matches Friday.

Also playing later were No. 2 Andy Murray against Paul Capdeville of Chile, with No. 3 Rafael Nadal playing Nicolas Kiefer in a night match.

No. 3 Venus Williams, on the same side of the draw as her sister, also was scheduled to play at night against Magdalena Rybarikova.