Venus Williams booked her place in the third round of the US Open with a battling straight-sets win over fellow American Bethanie Mattek-Sands.
Williams, seeking her third US Open title and first in eight years, had to fend off a raft of break-point opportunities carved out by the world number 124 but always had enough in reserve as she posted a 6-4 6-2 win in 91 minutes.
A crucial break of serve was enough for Williams to take the first set, although Mattek-Sands gave her compatriot plenty to think about in a tight tussle.
Williams' class ultimately told, the number three seed hitting 12 winners to Mattek-Sands' seven and converting two of three break point chances.
Mattek-Sands also forced three break points against the powerful Williams service game but her inability to convert two of those proved costly.
Two further breaks for Williams followed in the second set, the second of those converted with a thumping forehand smash for a 5-2 lead which appeared decisive.
However, Mattek-Sands had enough left in the tank to give Williams a scare as she attempted to serve out for the match, forcing the seven-time grand slam winner to save three break points — the last of those with a brilliant backhand winner at the net — before sealing victory with a blistering serve that Mattek-Sands could only divert into the stands.
Awaiting Williams in the next round is world number 46 Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia, who defeated Chang Kai-Chen in three sets.
The remarkable comeback of Kim Clijsters gathered pace at the US Open yesterday as she defeated 14th seed Marion Bartoli of France 5-7, 6-1, 6-2 to reach the third round.In just her third tournament back after a two year “retirement” during which she got married and had a baby daughter, Clijsters started slowly but moved up through the gears to stun the former world top tenner.