Swiatek wins easily, but knows who’s No. 1; Nadal bloodied

Sep 1, 2022, 1:06 AM | Updated: 10:17 pm

Fabio Fognini, of Italy, returns a shot to Rafael Nadal, of Spain, during the second round of the U...

Fabio Fognini, of Italy, returns a shot to Rafael Nadal, of Spain, during the second round of the U.S. Open tennis championships, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

NEW YORK (AP) — Iga Swiatek is winning easily — and quietly.

At this U.S. Open, even the world’s No. 1 player is a distant No. 2 as long as Serena Williams is still around.

“Yeah, that’s kind of her time right now,” Swiatek said. “I’m just, you know, playing and focusing on that, and that’s the most important thing for me.”

The two-time French Open champion beat 2017 U.S. Open winner Sloane Stephens 6-3, 6-2 on Thursday in the second round for her WTA Tour-leading 50th victory this season.

A day after Williams eliminated No. 2 seed Anett Kontaveit, with No. 3 Maria Sakkari losing earlier Wednesday, Swiatek perhaps looms as an even bigger threat to win a seventh title this year, something no woman has done since Williams in 2014. Past U.S. Open champions Naomi Osaka and Emma Raducanu have also been eliminated, along with 2021 runner-up Leylah Fernandez.

No. 6 Aryna Sabalenka remained the only women’s semifinalist from last year in the field — barely — by coming back from 5-1 down in the second set and erasing two match points before edging Kaia Kanepi 2-6, 7-6 (8), 6-4. But fourth-seeded Paula Badosa was knocked out with a 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-2 loss to Croatian Petra Martic.

Swiatek came to the U.S. Open just 4-4 in her last eight matches after winning 37 straight, but has dropped just eight games through two rounds. She needed only 1 hour, 14 minutes to beat Stephens, having no trouble with her first match in Arthur Ashe Stadium.

“Honestly, I just tried to have the same kind of motivation or attitude as any other court, because it’s the best way for me to perform good,” Swiatek said.

Williams resumes what could be her final singles tournament Friday, leading off the night session on Ashe for the third time this week against Ajla Tomljanovic. First, she was back on Ashe in the Thursday night opener along with big sister Venus, where they lost 7-6 (5), 6-4 to the Czech duo of Lucie Hradecka and Linda Noskova in the first round of women’s doubles.

After that match, 22-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal accidentally bloodied himself on the bridge of the nose with his racket early in the fourth set of a 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-1 victory over Fabio Fognini.

Nadal hit a backhand and, on the follow-through, his racket ricocheted off the court and smacked him in the face, cutting his nose. Nadal layed down on his back on the sideline while a trainer treated him, bandaging the injury.

“Well, just a little bit dizzy at the beginning,” Nadal said after wrapping up the win about 20 minutes later. “A little bit painful.”

Other winners Thursday included No. 8 Jessica Pegula, No. 9 Garbiñe Muguruza, No. 13 Belinda Bencic and No. 26 Victoria Azarenka, who didn’t get a handshake from Marta Kostyuk after beating the Ukrainian player.

Azarenka is from Belarus, which helped Russia launch its invasion of Ukraine.

“I just don’t think it’s the right thing to do in the circumstances I’m in right now,” Kostyuk said about a handshake, instead offering only a racket tap at the end.

No. 3 Carlos Alcaraz tied for the season lead in victories on the men’s tour with his 46th by beating Federico Coria of Argentina 6-2, 6-1, 7-5.

No. 7 Cam Norrie, No. 9 Andrey Rublev, No. 11 Jannik Sinner and No. 15 Marin Cilic, the 2014 U.S. Open champion, advanced, but No. 25 Borna Coric was upset by American Jenson Brooksby 6-4, 7-6 (10), 6-1. Brooksby reached the fourth round at Flushing Meadows as a 20-year-old last year, winning a set from Novak Djokovic.

He will play the 19th-year-old Alcaraz next.

“I’m going to bring in my best,” Alcaraz said. “It’s going to be a good, competitive battle out there.”

Pegula returned to the court later Thursday with Coco Gauff, and the No. 2-seeded team was upset by Fernandez and Daria Saville 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (5).

Gauff is also still alive in singles, facing fellow American Madison Keys on Friday afternoon. But she and Pegula were also counting on a long run in doubles, as they made in reaching the French Open final.

Gauff recently became the second-youngest player to reach No. 1 in the WTA doubles rankings. She had already reached the U.S. Open final last year with Caty McNally.


More AP coverage of U.S. Open tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/us-open-tennis-championships and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]

1 year ago

Joe Jarzynka...

Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]

1 year ago

FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...

Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]

1 year ago

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...

Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]

1 year ago

FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...

Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]

1 year ago

FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...

Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]

1 year ago

Swiatek wins easily, but knows who’s No. 1; Nadal bloodied