Shara­pova stays put as big guns exit US Open

CityPress - - Sport -

World num­ber two Si­mona Halep and two-time cham­pion Venus Wil­liams tum­bled out of the US Open on Fri­day, but Maria Shara­pova bucked the up­set trend which has rocked the women’s draw.

Croa­t­ian Mir­jana Lučić-Ba­roni, a for­mer phe­nom and now a 32-year-old vet­eran who had to fight through qual­i­fy­ing, shocked sec­ond-seeded Halep, the French Open runner-up, 7-6 (8-6), 6-2.

The re­ward for the 121st-ranked Lučić-Ba­roni is a fourth-round meet­ing with 13thseeded Ital­ian Sara Er­rani, who thwarted Wil­liams 6-0, 0-6, 7-6 (7-5).

At the other end of the age spec­trum, Swiss 17-year-old Belinda Ben­cic top­pled sixth-seeded Ger­man An­gelique Ker­ber 6-1, 7-5.

Ben­cic, the 2013 Wim­ble­don and French Open ju­nior cham­pion, now ranked 58th in the world, earned a meet­ing with for­mer world num­ber one Je­lena Janković – a 6-1, 6-0 win­ner over Swe­den’s Jo­hanna Larsson.

Ben­cic, who is coached by for­mer Swiss great Martina Hingis’ mother Me­lanie Moli­tor, seized her chance.

The last grand slam of the year has now lost four of its top 10 women’s seeds, af­ter the sec­ond-round de­par­tures of Ag­nieszka Rad­wańska and Ana Ivanovic.

Er­rani’s tri­umph over 19th-seeded Wil­liams wasn’t strictly speak­ing an up­set, but the 13th-seeded Ital­ian had to dig deep to notch her first ca­reer vic­tory over the Amer­i­can af­ter three de­feats.

“I know that was a re­ally tough match, even if I won the first set 6-0, she’s an amaz­ing player,” Er­rani said.

And as she ex­pected, seven-time grand slam cham­pion Wil­liams bat­tled back, rac­ing through the sec­ond set to set up a third that turned into a slugfest. Wil­liams twice came back from a break down in the third, then broke Er­rani to serve for the match at 5-3.

But she couldn’t hang on, sur­ren­der­ing her serve as they bat­tled to the tie-breaker, in which Er­rani took a 5-2 lead only for Wil­liams to bat­tle back to 5-5 be­fore suc­cumb­ing at last.

Er­rani was thrilled by the elec­tric at­mos­phere in the Arthur Ashe Sta­dium, even though she knew the fran­tic fans were for her op­po­nent.

Shara­pova also found her­self in a power strug­gle, but emerged with a 6-2, 6-4 vic­tory over Ger­man 26thseed Sabine Lisicki in a match that fin­ished af­ter mid­night.

Both women had more un­forced er­rors than win­ners – Shara­pova by 32 to 20.

In a match that saw nine breaks of serve, Shara­pova broke Lisicki in the fi­nal game to clinch the win when the Ger­man fired a fore­hand out on Shara­pova’s third match point.

– Sapa-AFP

SOLID SERVE Maria Shara­pova in ac­tion dur­ing her lengthy third-round US Open match

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.