Serena, Venus to meet in 3rd round after U.S. Open victories

Serena Williams and her sister Venus will meet in the third round of the U.S. Open after both advanced out of the second round in New York on Wednesday.

Friday's match will be their earliest Grand Slam meeting since their first at the Australian Open in 1998 and the 30th career WTA Tour match between the two.

"It's not the end of the world. We would rather have met later (in the tournament)," said Serena Williams, who defeated Germany's Carina Witthoeft 6-2, 6-2 on Wednesday. "Normally I would say cheer for me, but whoever you're feeling like, me or Venus, either one will work."

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Earlier in the day, Venus Williams outlasted Italian Camila Giorgi 6-4, 7-5 to move on to face her 17th-seeded sister, who leads their head-to-head battles 17-12.

"The last time we played the Australian, it was two against one," Venus told reporters with a laugh, mentioning she was one of the few people who knew Serena was pregnant at the time. "At least this time it's going to be fair."

Venus Williams, seeded 16th, received a battle from Giorgi in the second-round match played in the mid-90s heat of Louis Armstrong Stadium.

The 38-year-old American was down 0-40 while serving in the ninth game of the second set -- tied 4-4 -- when she had to dig down deep. Williams saved five break points to win the game and eventually closed it out.

"That love-40 game at 4-all, it was not looking good," Williams said. "I was saying to myself, 'Venus, this is not looking good.'"

Defending champion Sloane Stephens had to work harder than expected before finishing off Ukrainian qualifier Anhelina Kalinina 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 in a 2-hour, 45-minute match.

The third-seeded American lost the opening set, battled to prevail in the second before finishing strong to move on.

"Sometimes it's not going to be the best, but you've just got to battle through," Stephens said afterward. "I just had to weather the storm and wait for my opportunities. Obviously I wish I could have been playing a little bit better. That would have helped the situation. But I just found a way today."

Meanwhile, Russia's Ekaterina Makarova sent ninth-seeded German Julia Goerges packing with a 7-6 (10), 6-3 triumph.

The 30-year-old Makarova -- who upset Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki at last year's U.S. Open and again at this year's Wimbledon -- had 20 winners against 14 unforced errors. Goerges committed 29 unforced errors against 22 winners.

Seventh-seeded Ukrainian Elina Svitolina advanced with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Germany's Tatjana Maria, while eighth-seeded Czech Karolina Pliskova knocked off Romania's Ana Bogdan 6-2, 6-3.

Two-time Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza of Spain, the 12th seed, fell 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 to the Czech Republic's Karolina Muchova in late-night action.

No. 15 seed Elise Mertens of Belgium defeated Belarus' Vera Lapko 6-2, 6-0; 18th-seeded Ashleigh Barty of Australia dumped the Czech Republic's Lucie Safarova 7-5, 6-3; and 19th-seeded Latvian Anastasija Sevastova downed American Claire Liu 6-3, 6-1.

The Czech Republic's Barbora Strycova, the 23rd seed, rolled to a 6-0, 6-1 victory over Spain's Lara Arruabarrena; Belarus' Victoria Azarenka cruised to a 6-1, 6-2 triumph over 25th-seeded Australian Daria Gavrilova; and American Sofia Kenin topped 32nd-seeded Maria Sakkari of Greece 4-6, 6-1, 6-4.

--Field Level Media