Venus Williams improves to 19-0 in Open’s 1st Rd

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NEW YORK (AP) — Venus Williams shook off a mid-match lapse to improve to 19-0 in the U.S. Open’s first round and stay in the hunt for the No. 1 ranking.

The No. 9-seeded Williams, at 37 the oldest woman in the field, picked up a 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 victory over Viktoria Kuzmova, a 19-year-old qualifier from Slovakia who is ranked 135th.

Williams entered the U.S. Open as one of eight women with a chance to rise atop the WTA rankings by tournament’s end.

It was the first tour-level main draw match of Kuzmova’s career, the 967th for Williams, who won the title at Flushing Meadows in 2000 and 2001.

Williams was up a set, plus a break in the second at 2-0, when she faltered. Kuzmova broke for 2-1, then pulled at even at 3-all before taking three games in a row to force a third set. But Williams righted herself there, breaking for a 2-0 lead, then digging out of a love-40 hole for 3-0.

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