By Frank Pingue
NEWYORK (Reuters) – Serena Williams survived a second-round scare at the U.S. Open on Wednesday with a 5-7 6-3 6-1 win over American wildcard Catherine McNally to keep alive her hopes of securing a record-tying 24th Grand Slam title.
World number eight Williams, who captured the first of her six U.S. Open titles two years before her 17-year-old opponent was born, spent the first half of the match trying to find her rhythm but when she did she was off to the races.
McNally, competing in only her sixth tour-level event of her career and against the highest-ranked player she has ever faced, used an old-school serve-and-volley approach along with a lethal slice backhand to unsettle Williams.
So effective was McNally, who has tried to model parts of her game after Swiss great Roger Federer, that at one point in the match Williams screamed at her racquet “why are you missing?”.
But Williams, whose earliest U.S. Open exit came in her 1997 debut when she lost in the third round, turned the match around when she finally broke McNally’s serve and then consolidated in a tight service game for a 5-2 lead in the second set.
Williams looked more like herself in the decider – both serving and returning better – as she went up a double break for a quick 3-0 lead before storming home and sealing the match when she broke to love.
(Reporting by Frank Pingue; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)