NEW YORK (AP) — With Maria Sharapova's loss at the U.S. Open, four different women will win Grand Slam titles this year.
Serena Williams takes the next step toward trying to fill out that list when she plays her fourth-round match Monday. First things first, though. The 17-time Grand Slam champion has yet to even reach a major quarterfinal this season.
"I've been a casualty this whole year at Grand Slams," she said after Saturday's third-round victory. "I'm just hoping to keep staying in there."
The two-time defending champ has been locked in so far. Of the 16 women who reached the fourth round, Williams had dropped the fewest games (11).
"So far," Williams cautioned. "Key word."
The top-ranked Williams finally faces an opponent who isn't a fellow American, taking on Estonia's Kaia Kanepi. Kanepi, ranked 50th, upset 2011 U.S. Open champ Sam Stosur and 15th-seeded Carla Suarez Navarro.
She's 5-0 in her career in this round of Grand Slam tournaments, although her previous opponents weren't exactly of Williams' caliber. In fact, she faced an unseeded player in four of those matches, beating 18th-ranked Yanina Wickmayer at the 2010 U.S. Open.
And Williams is perfect at the U.S. Open against players of Kanepi's caliber. Eight of her nine career losses at Flushing Meadows were to top-10 opponents, and the one exception comes with a big asterisk: Kim Clijsters was a major champion returning from retirement.
Rain is again in the forecast for Monday.
Here are some other things to watch on Day 8 at the year's last Grand Slam tournament:
AZARENKA ASCENDING: Victoria Azarenka is starting to look like the player who lost to Williams in the last two U.S. Open finals. Seeded 16th after an injury-mired season, the two-time Australian Open champ has dropped just eight games in her last five sets.
And now she gets to face an opponent who has never experienced anything like this. Aleksandra Krunic, 21, had played one Grand Slam match before this year's U.S. Open.
The 145th-ranked Serb, who upset Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova in the third round, is seeking to become the first qualifier since Barbara Gerken in 1981 to reach the U.S. Open quarterfinals. She'd also become the lowest-ranked quarterfinalist in the tournament's history (not counting players who didn't have enough matches to earn a ranking).