Serena Williams Tested by Teen Caty McNally, Reaches Third Round, Novak Djokovic, Ashleigh Barty Advance in Straight Sets at US Open
(August 29, 2019) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Serena Williams said on court after her three-set win over 17-year-old Caty McNally on Wednesday night the she “survived.” The 23-time major champion seeded 8th at this year’s US Open had to rally past her opponent 5-7, 6-3, 6-1.
“I knew I could play better,” Williams said in her on court interview. “and kind of let Serena come through for once, a little bit.”
“I survived tonight. I’m not too pleased with how I played, at all,” she added.
McNally’s best showing at a tournament leading into the US Open came when she reached the semifinals of the Citi Open earlier this month as a qualifier. She won the doubles title at the same tournament with friend CoCo Gauff for their first WTA title.
Williams was forced to adjust to McNally’s game.
“It was definitely something to get used to,” Williams said. “You don’t play players like her that have such full games.
“But I think she just overall played really well.”
Williams made adjustments and dominated in the third set, at one point winning out of 17 straight points. “I had to stop making errors. I made so many errors in the first two sets. I was just too many. You can’t win tournaments making that many errors.”
“I think she started hitting her targets on her serves a lot better,” McNally said. “I mean, she has an unbelievable serve. It was really hard to read where she was going. All credit to her on that.
“Also just her returning, she was returning really deep and close to the baseline. For me sometimes I felt like I should have served and volleyed more, maybe that would have helped me because I was getting some of the returns right at my feet.
“Obviously she’s going to pick up her level. I knew that was going to happen. Next time I just have to raise my level with hers.”
“I knew I had to play better, and I knew I could,” Williams said.
“I think it’s great because I want to be able to win matches where I’m not playing my best, play players who are playing great, be able to come through. I need to be tested, I guess. Sounds scripted.”
McNally, making her main draw debut in the US Open main draw was pleased with her performance, despite the loss.
“That was unbelievable. I thought I came out really strong. I felt really good out there actually on the big stage. I wasn’t too nervous.
“First set was unbelievable tennis, I thought I played really well, served really solid, just was playing my game.
“Second and third set, she obviously picked up her level. That was pretty tough for me. Overall I’m really happy with everything.”
“For me, I just try to take it as another match, not really worry about who’s across the net,” McNally said. “I know if I did that, it might affect the way I play, I might become more emotionally attached to the match. That’s not good for me.
“But I’m really just happy with the way I went out there and played my game. I tried to stick to my game throughout the whole time. I might have missed some shots here or there. I think if I keep working on that, it’s going to pay off.”
“For me, I think it just shows that I’m capable of playing with the best,” said the teenager from Cincinnati. “I got a set off Serena Williams. Had her close in the second set, too. Had some chances. For me, it just gives me a lot of confidence, shows me that I can compete out on the biggest stages. Just keep my head down, I’m ready to go back to work.”
Top seed and defending champion Novak Djokovic needed left shoulder massages throughout his match against No. 56 Juan Ignacio Londero of Argentina but won 6-4, 7-6 (7-3), 6-1 coming back from a break down in both of the first two sets.
The Serbian talked to media about his shoulder woes:” I had to take time to address the injury that I have. It has caused hindrance to my game for sure tonight, especially with the serve and backhand. It was not easy to play with this kind of sensation, to be honest. I did not experience that too many times in my career.
“I was also lucky to find my way back in the second set and to win in the straight sets. I had obviously, you saw, a medical timeout. At changeovers, I tried to use within the rules as much as I can physiotherapy and medical help. That has definitely helped me stay in the match.
“The way it has started for me, especially midway through the first set, I didn’t know if I would be able to finish the match. I’m really glad I have.
“I’m going to assess this injury tomorrow even more with further consultations with experts in sports medicine. I’m hoping that in two days’ time I will be able to play pain-free, if that is possible.”
“It is new in a sense that I’ve never had that particular issue in my career,” he added. “It’s not new in a sense that it has bothered me now for almost couple weeks. It has been there. I’ve been experiencing some days of higher intensity of pain, some days less. It has been really fluctuating a lot, going up and down.
“What happened today on the court, actually how I felt, was quite rough and unpredictable. But, as I said on the court, you have to deal with this particular situation the way it is.
“Again, I did have not too many times in my career, but I did have certain situations where I had to, as probably anybody else in professional tennis, go through pain and just figure out the way I can finish the match and hopefully win. I got myself that win.
“Good thing about Grand Slams is you have a day off in between the matches. As I said, I’m hoping that with a proper medical help and treatments, I’ll be able to get myself in a better state than I was today in few days.”
French Open champion Ashleigh Barty advanced with a 6-2, 7-6(2) win over American Lauren Davis under the roof in Louis Armstrong Stadium.
“It’s always tough when the roof is closed,” noted the Australian, seeded second. “Obviously the noise is kept in a little bit more. It’s a pretty noisy court as it is. But it’s a great atmosphere. There’s nothing quite like playing a night session at the US Open. It is pretty special. It is nice to be part of it early in the tournament.
“It’s just another kind of aspect that you have to deal with and you have to adapt to and move on, try and get used to it as quickly as possible so it doesn’t become a factor in the match really.”