Serena Williams advances after rout

Updated: September 2, 2012, 7:13 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

NEW YORK -- Serena Williams does not enjoy viewing videos of her losses. Not one bit.

She used to engage in that sort of film work, Williams said, but "it was so painful; it was like stabbing myself."

So even though Williams knew her third-round opponent at the U.S. Open would be the same woman she lost to at the Australian Open, preparing by studying a replay of that January defeat simply was out of the question.

Did not seem to matter at all.

After splitting Saturday's first eight games against 42nd-ranked Ekaterina Makarova of Russia, the fourth-seeded Williams got into high gear and breezed to a 6-4, 6-0 victory, reeling off the last eight games in a row.

"Definitely was motivated. Knowing that I lost ... could definitely happen again. Did not want that to happen," said Williams, who hit 13 aces to raise her tour-leading total this season to 408.

"I really hate watching matches that I lose, unless I'm punishing myself," added the 14-time Grand Slam champion. "I didn't punish myself."

She hasn't been losing much lately.

Since the only first-round Grand Slam exit of her career, against 111th-ranked Virginie Razzano at the French Open on May 29, Williams is 22-1 in singles, including the title at Wimbledon and gold medal at the London Olympics.

That sort of excellence sure saves money for clothes: Williams said she threw out all of the dresses she brought to Paris to wear during matches there.

No such problems so far in New York, where Williams has dropped only 12 games entering her fourth-round match against 82nd-round Andrea Hlavackova of Czech Republic. Hlavackova, the 2011 French Open doubles champion, bawled on court after her 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 win over 14th-seeded Maria Kirilenko, whose boyfriend, Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin, was in New York to cheer for her.

"I want to be in the big matches," Hlavackova said. "I want to be the winner of those big matches."

Hlavackova had never advanced past the second round at a Grand Slam event before this week or defeated a top-20 opponent in a completed match before beating the 14th-seeded Russian on Saturday.

The woman Williams beat in the Wimbledon final, second-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska, dealt with the 90-degree heat and former No. 1 Jelena Jankovic with equal aplomb during a 6-3, 7-5 victory.

"I was feeling like I was melting there," Radwanska said. "I survived the match."

On Saturday against Makarova, things were even at 4-all in the first set, before Williams held serve to go up 5-4. In the next game, Williams broke the left-handed Makarova for the first time to take the opening set and seize control in Arthur Ashe Stadium.

At 15-all, Williams hit a backhand winner down the line. Then she earned a set point with big forehand to a corner that allowed her to put away a swinging backhand volley winner. And when Makarova pushed a down-the-line forehand long to cap the set, Williams let out a loud, excited yell of "Come on!"

Beginning to put the match out of reach, Williams got another break point the next time Makarova served with a reflex forehand volley passing shot off an overhead, and followed up with a strong backhand approach that her opponent couldn't handle. That made it 2-0 in the second set, and Williams' older sister, seven-time major champion Venus, applauded from her seat in the stands.

In all, Williams won 32 of 40 points on her serve and never faced a break point.

By the time it was over, she also held a 31-10 edge in winners, moving a step closer to adding a fourth U.S. Open trophies to the ones she won in 1999, 2002 and 2008.

The last time these two women played each other, it wasn't close, either. The difference, surprisingly, was that Makarova won 6-2, 6-3 in the fourth round in Melbourne. She got plenty of help from seven double-faults and 37 total unforced errors by Williams, who joked that day, "Maybe I should have started serving lefty."

That loss remains the only one for Williams in 22 Grand Slam matches against lefties.

After Saturday's victory in the rematch, Williams, who turns 31 this month, was asked during an on-court interview about decisions by her contemporaries Andy Roddick, 30, and Kim Clijsters, 29, to quit professional tennis after the U.S. Open.

"I'm nowhere near close to retiring," Williams replied, drawing a roar of approval from the crowd. "I can't leave you guys. I love this sport way too much, and now that Andy and Kim are done, I feel that I need to stay out here for the tennis. I'm not going anywhere."

In the night session, former No. 1 Ana Ivanovic ended 19-year-old American Sloane Stephens' run at the U.S. Open for the second consecutive year.

The 12th-seeded Ivanovic overcame 56 unforced errors, a deficit and a partisan crowd in Arthur Ashe Stadium to beat Stephens 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-2 in the third round.

Ivanovic eliminated Stephens at the same stage at Flushing Meadows in 2011.

Since winning the 2008 French Open -- her third final in a stretch of five Grand Slam tournaments -- Ivanovic hasn't reached the quarterfinals even once. She'll get a chance to get to the last eight in New York after taking the last four games against Stephens, who at No. 44 is the youngest member of the top 50 in the WTA rankings.

Stephens, who lives in Coral Springs, Fla., had 10 double-faults. She said afterward that she was bothered by a minor abdominal strain; she woke up Saturday with some swelling.

"It affected my serve, kind of threw me off a little bit," Stephens said. "Things like that happen. It's nothing you can control."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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