US Open Lookahead: Serena vs. Venus with Slam bid on line

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NEW YORK (AP) So there’s at least one person with zero interest in watching the Williams sisters play each other in the U.S. Open quarterfinals Tuesday night, with Serena’s bid for a calendar-year Grand Slam on the line.

Their mother, Oracene Price.

“It’s just hard to see them both going out there,” Price said, “and you know they both want it.”

Unique and extraordinary dynamics are always involved when 21-time major champion Serena Williams faces older sibling and seven-time major champion Venus Williams in a professional tennis match. This will be their fifth meeting at Flushing Meadows (each has won twice), the 14th at a major tournament (Serena leads 8-5), and 27th overall (Serena leads 15-11).

They met two months ago in the fourth round at Wimbledon, and Serena won in straight sets (Price also stayed away from Centre Court that day).

Throughout the U.S. Open, various players have been asked what it would be like to beat No. 1-seeded Serena in New York and end her attempt to become the first player in 27 years to win all four major titles in a single season.

But what must it be like for the 23rd-seeded Venus to try to thwart such an effort by her little sister?

“I don’t know. You have to ask Venus that question,” Price said. “I know it’s going to be hard, because I know (Venus) wants (Serena) to get it. But what can you say? You know they’re competitors.”

And Venus’ take?

“I don’t think anyone wants to be a spoiler. I think people love to see history being made,” she said. “No one is out to be a spoiler, but at the same time, you’re focused on winning your match, even though the circumstances are really much different.”

As for how she goes about preparing for this matchup, Venus said: “Even though you’re playing your sister, you have to be prepared and focus. The preparation doesn’t change.”

Venus, born 15 months before Serena, has been in a similar spot before. She was the opponent in every final when Serena won four major titles in a row from the 2002 French Open to 2003 Australian Open.

The top-ranked man, Novak Djokovic, couldn’t imagine being in the situation the Williams family finds itself in.

“The first thing that comes to my mind is how would I feel to play my brother, and I don’t think that would be possible, honestly,” said Djokovic, whose younger brother, Marko, has played at lower levels. “I, in a way, admire what they’re doing for so many years – to play against each other on such a big stage.”

Before they started traveling the world together, practicing together, occasionally playing doubles together, and collecting Grand Slam singles titles and the No. 1 ranking, Venus and Serena Williams were a couple of kids learning to play tennis from Dad on a hard court in Compton, California.

And they used to play each other back then, too, of course.

There wasn’t a big crowd, and no one was watching on TV, either.

While Serena has earned the victory in six of their past matches with money and ranking points at stake, it wasn’t always so.

“I used to always win,” Venus said, “in the early days.”

Here are other things to watch Tuesday at the U.S. Open:

VINCI VS. MLADENOVIC

Whichever Williams sister wins will move on to next face an unseeded woman who never before has been to the singles semifinals at a major tournament: Tuesday’s other women’s quarterfinal is 43rd-ranked Roberta Vinci of Italy vs. 40th-ranked Kristina Mladenovic of France. Vinci advanced when her fourth-round opponent – 25th-seeded Eugenie Bouchard, the Canadian who was the runner-up at Wimbledon last year – withdrew because of a concussion.

MEN’S QUARTERFINALS

Djokovic meets No. 18 Feliciano Lopez of Spain at night after Williams vs. Williams, and defending champion Marin Cilic takes on No. 19 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France in the afternoon.

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

Alcaraz loses to Goffin in 1st match as No. 1

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ASTANA, Kazakhstan — Carlos Alcaraz’s first match as the No. 1-ranked player ended with a straight-set loss to David Goffin at the Astana Open.

The 19-year-old Spaniard lost 7-5, 6-3 in his first tour match since winning the U.S. Open and capturing the No. 1 ranking.

“David was playing really, really well. To come back to competition is never easy,” Alcaraz said. “It’s really tough for me, for my confidence.”

Alcaraz came from 5-2 down to level the first set at 5-5, only to be broken again by his Belgian opponent.

“When you play against the World No. 1 on a big stage, big crowd, the fire inside gives you so much power to play your best tennis because you don’t have any choice,” Goffin said. “You have to fight and give your best and that was the case today.”

Second-seeded Daniil Medvedev and No. 3-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas both avoided similar upsets. Medvedev beat Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain 6-3, 6-1 and Tsitsipas ousted Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin 6-3. 6-4.

Kasatkina knocks out Raducanu at Agel Open

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OSTRAVA, Czech Republic — Fifth-seeded Daria Kasatkina defeated 2021 U.S. Open champion Emma Raducanu 7-5, 6-4 to advance to the second round of the Agel Open.

Kasatkina was playing her first match since losing in the first round of the U.S. Open and will next face Ekaterina Alexandrova.

Sixth-seeded Belinda Bencic of Switzerland rallied to eliminate former top-five player Eugenie Bouchard of Canada 6-7 (7), 6-1, while Aliaksandra Sasnovich upset eighth-seeded Jelena Ostapenko 6-2, 6-2.

American qualifiers Alycia Parks and Catherine McNally both advanced. Parks upset Czech Karolina Pliskova 6-0, 7-6 (3) and McNally eased past Anna Blinkova 6-1, 6-2 at the indoor hardcourt event in the Czech eastern city of Ostrava.