NEW YORK —
The only other time Flipkens played Williams came during that stretch, in the 2007 Fed Cup, and the Belgian lost in straight sets then.
“Today, I didn’t feel a lot of difference between this match and that match,” Flipkens said.
She was particularly troubled by Williams’ serving and returning. As is her wont, Williams stepped inside the baseline to receive second serves, putting pressure on Flipkens, who double-faulted six times.
Wearing a black dress with a colorful flower print, and fuchsia-colored braids tied in a bun, Williams needed all of 13 minutes to wrest control, taking 16 of the opening 21 points. Williams’ power-based game was only occasionally bothered by Flipkens’ slices.
There were bumpy patches early in the second set, when Williams faced a total of eight break points, but she saved seven. At 2-all, Williams faced the last significant test, a 16-point, 12-minute game with three break chances for Flipkens that were erased this way: 113 mph ace, 115 mph service winner, 116 mph serve that set up an errant forehand. As that shot from Flipkens sailed long, Williams shouted, “Come on!” Williams won the next point, a 15-stroke exchange, with a volley winner and shook her left fist.
On a day that began with a retirement announcement by James Blake — a former top-five player who also is 33 — Williams showed she’s still capable of big shots at big moments.
“I realize that I haven’t had a lot of chances to play this year or a lot of chances to play healthy this year, have had injuries and what have you, so I’m just going to have to keep working my way into it, maybe more than some of the other players,” she said. “But I know I can do that.”
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