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Serena Williams overtakes Federer for most Slam match wins

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NEW YORK — Serena Williams now owns more victories in Grand Slam matches than anyone else in tennis’ Open era, surpassing Roger Federer with her 308th.

So, Serena, who’ll wind up with more?

“I don’t know. We’ll see,” Williams said during her on-court interview after reaching the U.S. Open quarterfinals by beating Yaroslava Shvedova 6-2, 6-3 on Monday.

“Hopefully we’ll both keep going,” she added. “I know I plan on it. I know he does. So we’ll see.”

Federer turned 35 on Aug. 8. Williams turns 35 on Sept. 26.

Williams’ very first win at a Grand Slam tournament came way back when she was 16, a 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 6-1 victory over Irina Spirlea in the first round of the Australian Open on Jan. 19, 1998. Williams’ first loss at a major came in her next match, which happened to come against older sister Venus.

Nearly two decades later, through plenty of highs and lows, from championships to health scares, the younger Williams is still at it – and still winning.

“It’s a huge number,” she said about getting to 308. “I think it’s very significant, actually. I think it’s something that just really talks about the length of my career, in particular. I’ve been playing for a really long time. But also, given that consistency up there – that’s something that I’m really proud of.”

Although her 36-year-old sibling is active, many of Williams’ contemporaries have come and gone, including Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters, who are both younger, and Martina Hingis, who is only a year older.

“I definitely never thought I would be playing still,” Williams said. “Now I don’t really see when I’m going to stop, because I’m just enjoying these moments out here, getting to break records that I didn’t even know existed or I didn’t even know was possible.”

Over her career, she is 308-42 at the majors, for a winning percentage of .880. Here’s the victory breakdown: 88 at the U.S. Open, 86 at Wimbledon, 74 at the Australian Open, 60 at the French Open.

Federer is 307-51 (.858) and can’t increase his total until next season, because he is sitting out the U.S. Open and the rest of 2016 because of problems with his surgically repaired right knee. Indeed, he recently tweeted pictures of himself hiking in the Swiss countryside .

Williams, meanwhile, still has work to do at Flushing Meadows as she pursues another mark: most Grand Slam singles titles in the Open era, which began in 1968. She pulled even with Steffi Graf by collecting her 22nd trophy at Wimbledon in July.

Against the 52nd-ranked Shvedova, Williams hit a tournament-leading 126 mph serve, totaled 11 aces, won 28 of 30 points when a first serve landed in, and didn’t face a break point. So far, through four matches, Williams has not been broken at all, facing only a single break point.

“She’s hitting much harder than a regular player. And the placement and the bounce is much different,” Shvedova said. “It’s harder to reach.”

Williams has reached at least the quarterfinals in each of her past nine appearances at the U.S. Open. A year ago, she was stunned in the semifinals by Roberta Vinci, ending the American’s bid to become the first player since Graf in 1988 with a calendar-year Grand Slam.

She’ll try to get back to the semifinals by beating No. 5 Simona Halep next.

“I just feel like I’m going out there, doing what I need to do,” Williams said. “I’m not overplaying, I’m not underplaying.”

Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

Petra Kvitova to play at French Open

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PARIS — Only two months after picking up her racket for the first time following a knife attack at her home, Petra Kvitova will be playing at the French Open.

The two-time Wimbledon champion said Friday she will make her comeback at Roland Garros, although she still lacks power and strength.

“I knew this day would come,” said Kvitova, who was attacked by an intruder last year. “I’m really happy that really here, the dream comes true.”

Kvitova has missed all season while recovering from surgery on her racket-holding left hand. She sustained damage to the tendons in her left hand, along with injuries to all five fingers and two nerves, during the attack.

Doctors initially thought she would need more time before returning to tennis. But Kvitova’s recovery was faster than expected and she said last month that she was signing up for the French Open, which begins Sunday, in hopes of being able to compete.

“It wasn’t easy, but I’m happy that I work through this and I can play tennis and I can be in the draw,” she said.

Kvitova, who won the Wimbledon title in 2011 and 2014 and climbed as high as No. 2 in the WTA rankings, was not allowed to speak about the attack itself because a police investigation is still ongoing. However, she spoke about the anxiety associated with her dreadful experience.

“I didn’t sleep well the days after, but I wasn’t really staying alone,” she said. “From the beginning I was really feeling really weird when I went in the city or somewhere. I was always staring to the guys and looking if there are no strangers there. But with the time, it’s better.”

Kvitova also provided details on the intense rehabilitation process that preceded her “last-minute” decision to try her luck in Paris.

“I worked very hard behind the scenes,” she said. “From the beginning I had this hand in a splint for two months, and even then I was practicing every day, always putting the splint away and trying to make this scar softer. So from the second day after surgery I started to work with that, which was kind of easy, just passive work with the fingers. I couldn’t move them.”

Kvitova got rid of the splint after two weeks and started to move her fingers slightly. She said she can’t still move them completely.

Kvitova also consulted with a hand specialist in the French city of Grenoble every month and she started practicing with a racket at the end of March.

“I hit a few forehands with soft balls from the net, and it felt very, very weird,” she said. “I didn’t really have touch in the hand for holding the racket. I’m happy that I didn’t have to change any techniques or something. Everything seems OK. Of course the hand doesn’t have that power and the strength yet, but I’m working on it. Hopefully one day will be everything perfect.”

Kvitova will open her campaign on the red clay against 86th-ranked Julia Boserup. She is making her ninth appearance at Roland Garros, where she reached the semifinals in 2012.

“Not many people believe that I can play tennis again. So I’m happy that I can play,” Kvitova said. “I actually already won my biggest fight. I stayed in life and I have all my fingers.”

Nishikori saves three match points in Geneva Open QF win

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GENEVA — Kei Nishikori saved three straight match points in the deciding set before outlasting Kevin Anderson 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (6) in the Geneva Open quarterfinals on Thursday.

The second-seeded Nishikori was serving at 4-5, 0-40 before rallying to beat the 62nd-ranked South African, who fired 14 aces without allowing any by his opponent.

Nishikori also trailed in the tiebreaker before creating a second match-point chance with a forehand crosscourt service return for a winner. He clinched with a forehand winner off a looping net-cord ball.

The No. 9-ranked Japanese player will face 33rd-ranked Mischa Zverev of Germany in the semifinals on Friday.

The Russian-born Zverev, who came through qualifying, beat fifth-seeded Steve Johnson of the United States 6-4, 7-5.