Witthoeft, the world No 101, faces some ominous history in tonight’s match. Serena’s last defeat to player ranked outside the top 100 came in the first round of the 2012 French Open, when she bowed to No 111 Virginie Razzano. Feels like a lifetime ago. On the rosier side, it’s not been that long since Williams lost to a German in grand slam play.
The players are walking up the tunnel toward the court where they are intercepted for their pre-match interviews with ESPN. First it’s Witthoeft, who is asked about handling the pressure of playing a 23-time grand slam champion on home soil.
“It’s going to be exciting for me, but I’m just trying to focus on myself,” the 23-year-old German says. “I’m just going to try and play aggressive and play my game and let’s see.”
Then comes Serena, who is asked about the challenge of playing an opponent she’s never faced before (“It’s never easy but I’ve seen her play a lot so that helps”) and how she feels about playing on Ashe (“It’s an incredible feeling, I love this New York crowd, I almost can’t describe it”).
About 20 minutes until the players take the court. Here’s Kevin Mitchell’s courtside report from Andy Murray’s four-set defeat to Fernando Verdasco.
We’ve been told the match won’t start before 7.45pm local time. That’s about a half hour from now. So feel free to prepare a snack and check in on the other happenings around the grounds with our Katy Murrells.
Hello and welcome to Arthur Ashe Stadium for tonight’s second-round match between Serena Williams and Carina Witthoeft. The players should be on court a few minutes later than scheduled as the stadium empties out following Fernando Verdasco’s just-finished victory over Andy Murray in the day-session finale.
It’s the first ever meeting between the 23-time grand slam champion and the 23-year-old German and surely the American is the favorite despite a rocky patch of form entering Flushing Meadows. Williams overcame a bit of a slow start in her first-round win over Poland’s Magda Linette, while Wittheoft won in straight sets over the American teenager Caroline Dolehide.
Bryan will be here shortly. In the meantime here’s a look at the sweltering conditions that have been the talk of the tournament so far.