After the 15-year-old Coco Gauff defeated Venus Williams in her first match at Wimbledon last month, Gauff’s doubles partner, the 17-year-old Caty McNally, had a puncher’s chance at an even bigger upset in her first United States Open. She won the first set against Serena Williams in their second-round match before Williams rallied to prevail, 5-7, 6-3, 6-1.
For only her second U.S. Open singles match she marched onto the court at Arthur Ashe Stadium for the final of the night session with a big grin on her face.
She then made it clear very quickly that Williams, the greatest player of this era, was in for a serious challenge.
Mixing speeds and spins and coming up with big serves when she needed them, McNally applied and absorbed pressure, and converted her only break point of the match to take a 6-5 lead.
She then rallied from 0-40 to hold serve and win the opening set, waving her arms to pump up the crowd as she walked to her seat with a bounce in her step.
Seemingly rattled by McNally’s varied tactics, Williams was far from top form in the opening set, making 15 unforced errors.
She shouted and winced in frustration as her groundstrokes smacked into the net, but maintained her focus and began finding her range early in the second set.
She broke McNally’s serve for the first time in the sixth game, hitting a forehand return winner as McNally tried again to serve and volley.
“It was definitely something to get used to,” Williams, 37, said of McNally’s playing style. “You don’t play players like her who have such full games. I just think she over all played really well.”
After fighting through the second set, taking it on her fifth set point, Williams hit the accelerator pedal in the third, attacking returns with intimidating precision and losing only five points in total, none on her serve.
Most matches were postponed by rain on Wednesday, so Williams’s third-round opponent has yet to be determined.
She will face either Karolina Muchova or Hsieh Su-wei, who will play each other on Thursday.
The performance continued a strong summer for McNally, who was born and remains based near Cincinnati, where her mother works as a tennis instructor. Her brother, John, plays tennis for Ohio State.
McNally, now ranked 121st, reached the semifinals in singles at the Citi Open in Washington this month, and won the doubles title with Gauff. (McNally lost to Gauff in last year’s French Open junior girls final.) McNally earned her first Grand Slam main-draw victory on Monday, beating Timea Bacsinszky.
“I think the young American girls are inspiring each other,” said Kathy Rinaldi, the United States Fed Cup captain who has known McNally’s mother, Lynn, since they played junior tennis against each other. “When one of the girls has a good result, it kind of lifts the other. It’s a healthy competition, and they support each other.”
Novak Djokovic pushes through injury to win.
Novak Djokovic, the No. 1 seed and defending champion, won his second-round match against Juan Ignacio Lóndero, 6-4, 7-6 (3), 6-1, but rarely has a tennis score line been so deceptive.
Djokovic was down a break in the first set against Juan Ignacio Lóndero, and came back to win it. He was broken three times in the second set, but won that one too, in a 7-3 tiebreaker.
And he did it while wincing through a left shoulder injury that required treatment multiple times during the match.
In a postmatch interview, Djokovic said the injury affected his serve and his backhand, but did not want to elaborate. He said only that it was “something I have been carrying for quite awhile.”
In his news conference later, he explained the shoulder had been bothering him for a couple of weeks.
“I’ve been experiencing some days of higher intensity of pain, some days less,” he said. “It has been really fluctuating a lot, going up and down.”
He said he hoped that a day off before his next match would also him to be pain-free come Friday. He will next face Denis Kudla or the No. 27 seed Dusan Lajovic. Their second-round match was postponed because of rain and will be played Thursday.
In a night session match at Louis Armstrong Stadium, No. 2 Ashleigh Barty defeated Lauren Davis, 6-2, 7-6 (2).
Matches on outside courts are postponed.
Some of the matches on the outside courts at the U.S. Open got underway about six and a half hours late because of two rain delays. But the players were not on court for long. Four matches began, and four games were completed, before it started to rain again.
Shortly after, the U.S.T.A. announced that all matches, except those being played in the roofed Arthur Ashe and Louis Armstrong Stadiums, would be postponed until Thursday. If you had day session tickets on Wednesday, here is the U.S. Open’s policy for inclement weather cancellations.
Playing in Armstrong, Madison Keys closed out a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Zhu Lin at 5:44 p.m. It was only the fifth match to finish all day.
Roger Federer wins; Venus Williams loses.
Two great champions played simultaneously under the roofs at the U.S. Open on Wednesday.
Venus Williams looked brilliant at times and energized the crowd in Louis Armstrong Stadium with flashes of her championship-caliber play. But she was unable to overcome a younger and much-higher-ranked player.
Roger Federer looked awful at the beginning of his match, but prevailed.
Fifth-seeded Elina Svitolina defeated Williams, 6-4, 6-3, in their second-round match. It was the first time that Williams, 39 and ranked 52nd, lost in the second round of the Open since 2013.
Williams fought valiantly, saving several match points to forestall Svitolina’s celebration and give the fans a little more time to savor the twilight of her career, although Williams has said she has no plans to retire.
Williams hit several wicked backhands down the line to delight the crowd and showed moments of daring at the net along with several electric serves reminiscent of her more dominant years on tour. But the tireless Svitolina proved too much to overcome.
With rain falling, only two courts were in operation Wednesday: Arthur Ashe Stadium and Armstrong, which have retractable roofs.
For the second consecutive match, the third-seeded Federer, 38, overcame a poor start to beat an unheralded player and advance, although with some concern.
In the first round, he lost the first set to Sumit Nagal of India before rallying to win, and on Wednesday he played an even worse first set and then regained his focus to beat Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia and Herzegovina, 3-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4.
It is the first time that Federer lost the opening set of his first two matches at one of the four Grand Slam events.
Federer, who has played only two matches on hardcourts since he lost to Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon final on grass, looked out of sorts in the first set, losing the first four games and making 17 unforced errors in the set. He got only 57 percent of his first serves in.
But it did not take long for Federer to reverse the trend, and he eventually overwhelmed Dzumhur, 27, who is ranked 99th in the world. Dzumhur was the first man representing Bosnia and Herzegovina to play in the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament when he qualified for the Australian Open in 2014.
Earlier Wednesday, Karolina Pliskova defeated Miriam Bolkvadze, 6-1, 6-4, in the first match on Ashe, and Kei Nishikori beat Bradley Klahn, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5, in the first match on Armstrong.
Nick Kyrgios is in trouble again.
Nick Kyrgios looked sharp on the court in his first-round win over Steve Johnson, which ended at 1:12 a.m. on Wednesday. Of course, with Kyrgios nothing comes easy. At his postmatch news conference he was asked about the $113,000 in fines he received from the ATP for his antics at his previous match: a loss to Karen Khachanov at the Cincinnati Masters. He said he was not troubled by the punishment and called the ATP “corrupt.”
Kyrgios is now facing two investigations by the ATP — one for the Cincinnati incident, in which he verbally abuse of the chair umpire and left the court without authorization to break two rackets, and one for the comment at his news conference. Either of one could lead to a lengthy suspension if he is found to have committed a major offense under the tour’s code of conduct.
Kyrgios soon backed away from the use of the word “corrupt” in a statement he issued on Wednesday.
Ben Rothenberg, David Waldstein and Max Gendler contributed reporting.