US Open 2018: Angelique Kerber digs deep to dispatch Johanna Larsson in New York

Angelique Kerber, of Germany, returns a shot to Johanna Larsson, of Sweden, during the second round of the US Open tennis tournament. (Reuters)

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Fourth seed Angelique Kerber fended off a comeback attempt by Johanna Larsson to dispatch the Swede 6-2 5-7 6-4 and punch her ticket to the third round of the US Open on Thursday. The match looked like it would be a cakewalk for the 2016 champion when she cruised through the first set and took a 5-2 lead in the second.

But the hot and humid conditions appeared to wear down the 30-year-old German, who dropped five consecutive games behind shaky serving and a raft of errors as Larsson raised her game. A 10-minute heat break ahead of the third set rejuvenated Kerber, who seized the momentum as she broke to take a 4-3 lead before smashing a forehand winner to end the 2-1/2-hour battle.

“I think we both really played on a really high level from the first point,” Kerber said. “It was just one or two points that decided the match.” The German said she struggled with fatigue but added that it was nothing new at the always challenging fourth and final Grand Slam of the year.

“It’s always a battle here, especially in these conditions,” she said. “You just have to take it point by point.” Next up is a third-round meeting with 29th-seeded Slovak Dominika Cibulkova, with Kerber having won seven of their 12 career meetings, most recently a straight-sets victory on the grass at the Eastbourne International this year.

Petra Kvitova topples Wang in second-round US Open clash

Hard-hitting Czech Petra Kvitova advanced to the third round of the US Open on Thursday, defeating China’s Yafan Wang 7-5 6-3 to keep her dream of winning a third Grand Slam title alive. The fifth seed converted five of seven break points and fired down four aces to send 24-year-old Wang packing in a match that lasted just under two hours on a hot and humid day at Flushing Meadows.

The match looked like it would be a one-sided affair when the twice Wimbledon champion raced to a 4-1 lead in the first set but Wang came roaring back to level the set at 5-5. Kvitova would not be denied, however, unleashing her powerful forehand and elevating her play to capture the final two games of the set before cruising to victory.

Next up for the Czech is a third-round meeting with 20-year-old number 26 seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus. Kvitova won their only previous meeting in three sets on the hardcourts at the Miami Open this year.

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