Serena Williams easily won her eagerly-awaited clash with Sloane Stephens at the US Open on Sunday as normal service resumed at the last Grand Slam of the year.
Serena was one of four US Open champions who won on Sunday, sending a clear message to the next generation of rising stars that they will have to wait their turn.
The 31-year-old avenged her loss to Stephens at the Australian Open with an emphatic 6-4, 6-1 victory to keep her title defence on course.
Defending men’s champion Andy Murray and world No. 1 Novak Djokovic also won in straight sets, while 2001 winner Lleyton Hewitt turned back the clock to reach the fourth round for the first time since 2006.
Murray needed less than two hours to see off Germany’s Florian Mayer 7-6(2), 6-2, 6-2 and advance to the fourth round.
Djokovic was even more ruthless in his centre court night match against Portugal’s Joao Sousa, cruising to a 6-0, 6-2, 6-2 win, while 32-year-old Hewitt wore down Russia’s Evgeny Donskoy 6-3, 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-1.
The biggest surprise on a day when most results went as expected was the defeat of women’s third seed Agnieszka Radwanska.
The Pole, who had made it to the quarterfinals or better at the three other Grand Slams this year, crumbled to a 6-4, 6-4 defeat by Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova after she had won the first four games of the match.
Makarova wil play China’s Li Na after Asia’s top player accounted for Jelena Jankovic 6-3, 6-0.
Serena will play Carla Suarez Navarro in the quarterfinals, the Spaniard having upset Germany’s eighth-seed Angelique Kerber 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(3).
Murray’s opponent in the fourth round will be Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin, who beat Italy’s Andreas Seppi 6-3, 6-4, 2-6, 3-6, 6-1, with Tomas Berdych looming in the quarterfinals.
Berdych dispatched Julien Benneteau of France 6-0, 6-3, 6-2 to set up a fourth-round clash with Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka, who defeated Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus 6-3, 6-2, 6-7(1), 7-6(7).
Djokovic’s next opponent is Marcel Granollers, who knocked the last American out when he edged wildcard Tim Smyczek 6-4, 4-6, 0-6, 6-3, 7-5.
Bopanna bows out
Meanwhile, Rohan Bopanna’s campaign ended at the US Open after the Indian and his French partner Edourad Roger-Vasselin suffered a straight-set defeat at the hands of Britain’s Colin Fleming and Jonathan Marray in the men’s doubles third round.
The sixth-seeded Indo-French combo was stunned by Fleming and Marray, seeded 12th, 6-4, 6-4 in a contest that lasted 81 minutes.