Thinking back to their previous matches, Stephens added: “It was very important for me the first time to just even get out there and be like, ‘OK, it’s not as scary as I thought it would be.’ I think being able to have played her a couple times before, I’m excited to get back out there.”
Williams probably is, too, given the way she responds to disappointments such as her Australian Open loss. Since a first-round exit at last year’s French Open, Williams has won 94 of 99 matches and earned 13 titles, including at three of the past five Grand Slam tournaments.
As for what happened against Stephens in Australia, Williams said: “You got to ... think about what you can do, how you can be better. I’m sure she takes it as well — how she did, how she can repeat that.”
Her match against Shvedova began at nearly midnight because it followed 2001 champion Lleyton Hewitt’s stirring 6-4, 5-7, 3-6, 7-6 (2), 6-1 comeback victory over 2009 winner Juan Martin del Potro, which lasted more than four hours.
It was the ninth time in the last 10 years that two previous title winners faced each other in New York; Hewitt was a participant in three of those in the past, going 0-3.
The 32-year-old Australian, a former No. 1 now ranked 66th after a series of injuries, repeatedly scrambled along the baseline to come up with passing winners against the sixth-seeded del Potro.
“I don’t know how many years I’ve got left in me. I keep getting asked the question,” said Hewitt, who won Wimbledon in 2002. “I’m just pumped to get out on this court and try to put on a great show.”
Earlier, two other U.S. Open winners, defending champion Andy Murray and top-seeded Novak Djokovic, experienced only brief lulls before staying on course for a possible showdown in the semifinals.