‘Tennis is mental’ says Serena Williams after passing Arantxa Rus test at empty Arthur Ashe Stadium

Serena Williams fist pump

Serena Williams declared herself ready for the US Open after coming through a tough match against Arantxa Rus at the Western & Southern Open.

The 23-time Grand Slam winner was staring defeat in the face as Rus was serving for the match at 6-5 in the decider, but Williams broke back and ended up winning 7-6 (8-6), 3-6, 7-6 (7-0) in two hours and 49 minutes.

After winning the opening set tie-breaker, the American lost four games in a row in the second as the Dutchwoman levelled things before taking control again in the third set.

Williams found herself serving for the match at 5-3, but was broken to love and Rus won the next two games as well and appeared to be headed for the victory.

However, the American reeled off some impressive shots to break back and then won the tie-breaker.

The third seed admitted afterwards that it was a mental battle to play without fans at Flushing Meadows, but feels she passed the test.

“Now I feel like I have passed that test, and now I can pass the test at the Open, playing Ashe Stadium,” Williams said.

“At one point I was pumping my fist and saying, ‘Come on!’ I had a crowd in my head or something! It was actually funny to me. I don’t know. For me, it was like there was a crowd there.”

She added: “Physically I feel like I’m incredibly fit. I did hit a wall today in the second set. I was so hot. That never happens,” she said.

“Tennis is mental. You know, it’s all mental.”

Next up is 13th seed Maria Sakkari after the Greek beat Yulia Putintseva from Ukraine 6-4, 7-6 (7-9).

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