NEW YORK — Four former US Open champions took the court in each of the four scheduled matches on Arthur Ashe Stadium on Thursday, and all showed championship traits in advancing to the third round.
Leading off was 2016 winner Angelique Kerber, who needed to show resolve after losing a 5-2 lead in the second set before defeating Sweden’s Johanna Larsson in three sets, 6-2, 5-7, 6-4. At 3-3 in the third, Kerber broke Larsson, only to be broken back and setting up the possibility that Thursday’s action would begin with a massive upset. But Kerber then broke Larsson once again for 5-4 and the German was able to serve out the match to set up a third-round meeting with Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia.
Five-time US Open winner Roger Federer was next on the court named after the 1968 champion, and he went on to routinely dispatch the effervescent yet temperamental Frenchman, Benoit Paire, in straight sets at 7-5, 6-4, 6-4. Despite his past success in New York, Federer, who won five consecutive times in New York, has not won this tournament in a decade after completing the five-peat in 2008.
After 2008, Novak Djokovic, who played next on Ashe on Thursday, emerged as the premier hard court player in the world, winning the US Open in 2011 and 2015. (He also has six Australian Open titles, his first coming in 2008.) Struggling a little more than Federer did, Djokovic needed four sets before defeating American Tennys Sandgren, 6-1, 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-2.
To close out the evening on the show court, 2006 winner Maria Sharapova overcame 10 double faults to defeat Romanian Sorana Cirstea 6-2, 7-5, winning the final three games of the second set to prevent what would have probably been a tense final set. There may be no better player in either tour in playing night matches in New York City than Sharapova, who improved to 21-0 in her career in night matches at the US Open.
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Thursday’s Day 3 action, with all photos taken by our senior photographer, Robert Cole. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are currently 19 pictures in total.