NEW YORK — Venus Williams did her part during the day, then Serena Williams got a win of her own at night to set up an earlier-than-usual Grand Slam matchup between the sisters at the U.S. Open.

Venus beat Camila Giorgi 6-4, 7-5 on Wednesday, a couple of hours before Serena Williams hit 13 aces and overwhelmed 101st-ranked Carina Witthoeft of Germany 6-2, 6-2 in a little more than an hour.

It set up a third-round showdown, the earliest they’ve faced each other at a Grand Slam tournament in 20 years.

“Obviously, it’s early in the tournament, so both of us are going to be looking forward to continuing to play better,” Venus said. “Obviously, it’s definitely a tough draw.”

The third-round match will be the earliest between the Williams sisters at a Grand Slam tournament since the second round of the 1998 Australian Open in their very first meeting on tour.

“Normally, I would say cheer for me,” Serena told spectators after her win. “But whoever you’re feeling like – me or Venus – it’ll work.”


Serena leads Venus 17-12 overall and 15-10 at majors.

The reason this match comes so early is that their rankings are not what they’ve been in the past. Serena is No. 26, playing in only the seventh tournament since she was off the tour for more than a year while having a baby.

“The last time we played, at the Australian, it was two against one,” Venus joked, in a reference to Serena being pregnant when she beat Venus in the 2017 Australian Open final. “At least this time. It’ll be fair.”

Even though the U.S. Tennis Association bumped Serena’s seeding up to reflect her past success, it still placed her at No. 17. Venus, meanwhile is No. 16.

“It’s so young in the tournament,” Serena said. “We would have rather met later.”

They’ve played each other in the finals of all four Slams, including at the U.S. Open in 2001 (when Venus won) and 2002 (when Serena won).


“It’s incredible what they’ve done. I mean, amazing really. Obviously there’s been other siblings that have had fantastic careers in tennis, but none anywhere close to what they’ve managed to achieve,” said three-time major champion Andy Murray, whose first major since hip surgery ended with a four-set loss to No. 31 Fernando Verdasco. “I’d be surprised if anything like that ever happens again.”

Defending champion Sloane Stephens and two-time U.S. Open finalist Victoria Azarenka also will meet in the third round after victories on another hot and humid day at the final Grand Slam tournament of the year, where simply winning wasn’t enough.

Winning quickly and getting back indoors was on everyone’s mind.

“Yeah, I’m very happy about that,” Azarenka said after overpowering No. 25 seed Daria Gavrilova of Australia 6-1, 6-2.

Stephens was in trouble early before rallying to beat Ukrainian qualifier Anhelina Kalinina 4-6, 7-5, 6-2.

Venus Williams was spared some of the most direct sun by playing in the rebuilt Louis Armstrong Stadium, which is well-shaded. But there was only so much protection available on a day when temperatures soared into the mid-90s for the second straight day.


“Maybe the hottest conditions I have every played (in),” No. 20 seed Borna Coric said after winning his second-round match in straight sets.

An extreme heat rule was to remain in effect until further notice, allowing men to take a 10-minute break between the third and fourth set of singles matches, and women to do so between their second and third sets.

Other seeded winners on the women’s side included No. 7 Elina Svitolina, No. 8 Karolina Pliskova, No. 15 Elise Mertens, No. 19 Anastasija Sevastova and No. 23 Barbora Strycova, all in straight sets.

“Especially with the heat, I wanted to make the match a little shorter,” Mertens said.

Juan Martin del Potro beat American Dennis Kudla 6-3, 6-1, 7-6 (4), but there won’t be a meeting of past champions in the third round. The 2009 winner will face No. 31 seed Fernando Verdasco, who ended 2012 winner Murray’s return to the U.S. Open with a 7-5, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory.

Stan Wawrinka ran his U.S. Open winning streak to nine, and the 2016 champ will next meet No. 25 seed Milos Raonic. But No. 15 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas was eliminated, a surprisingly early exit after his strong hard-court season.

No. 5 seed Kevin Anderson was an easy winner, and ninth-seeded Dominic Thiem pulled out a five-set victory over American Steve Johnson.

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