HOWARD FENDRICH, AP Tennis Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Venus Williams’ opponent in the third round of the U.S. Open on Friday is 18-year-old Belinda Bencic of Switzerland, who just so happens to be the last player to beat Serena Williams.
And Venus, of course, was well aware of that.
Planned to even ask her younger sister for some tips.
“We always give each other advice, especially if one of us has played the other opponent recently,” Venus said.
“She’ll probably give me some pointers,” added Venus, at 35 the oldest woman in the tournament field this year in Flushing Meadows. “She’s got pretty sage advice. I like to think she knows best.”
Venus is seeded 23rd, Bencic 12th. Venus has won seven Grand Slam titles, including the U.S. Open in 2000 and 2001. Bencic’s best result so far at a major tournament was getting to the quarterfinals at the U.S. Open in her debut last year.
But Bencic, who is coached by Martina Hingis’ mother, is considered one of the game’s up-and-coming stars. Last month at Toronto, she beat Serena.
In her first WTA match, in 2012, Bencic played Venus — and lost, part of an 0-3 record for the teen in their head-to-head series.
“Now I really want to win. I feel like I can have a good plan when I go on the court,” said Bencic, who smashed her racket, cried in her changeover chair and argued with the chair umpire in her second-round victory Wednesday. “If I will feel good, I think it can be a very interesting match. I mean, of course, she’s a great player. She hits the ball very hard. It will be very difficult for me, but we will see.”
Other things to keep an eye on Friday at Flushing Meadows:
SERENA VS. MATTEK-SANDS
The loss to Bencic was one of only two defeats in 52 matches in 2015 for Serena, who is seeded No. 1 at the U.S. Open as she bids to complete the first calendar-year Grand Slam in tennis since Steffi Graf did it in 1988.
On Friday night, she faces another American, Bethani Mattek-Sands, who is a wild-card entry ranked 101st and appearing in the third round in New York for the first time in 13 appearances.
Serena, who is 2-0 against Mattek-Sands, described her opponent’s type of tennis as aggressive.
“Well, I mean, that’s a game style that I’ve played with since I’ve been little. That’s how I’m going to go out there and play,” Mattek-Sands said. “Obviously, Serena’s pretty aggressive. She’s going to rip some balls, hit some big serves. I think it’s going to be a good match.”
NADAL VS. FOGNINI
The last match scheduled in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Friday night could be entertaining, and not just for the shots the players hit: When Rafael Nadal beat Fabio Fognini in the final on clay at Hamburg a month ago, the two engaged in a bit of a shouting match during a changeover.
Fognini is a volatile sort who earned a record fine at Wimbledon last year for an argument with an official.
RAONIC VS. LOPEZ
A couple of good-serving, attacking players meet up when No. 10 Milos Raonic of Canada plays No. 18 Feliciano Lopez of Spain. One big question mark: How will Raonic’s back hold up? He had trouble in the second round, often propping a leg up on a courtside service-speed readout board to stretch his back.
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