Italian doubles set for singles showdown

Tue, Sep 4, 2012, 01:00

Tennis:Italian doubles partners Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci will meet in the quarter-finals of the US Open on Wednesday after both caused upsets at Flushing Meadows.

Errani ousted sixth seed Angelique Kerber and was followed on to Louis Armstrong Stadium by Vinci, who defeated world number two and Wimbledon finalist Agnieszka Radwanska to reach her first singles grand slam quarter-final.

Both women have made big strides this season both individually and together. Errani made the quarter-finals at the Australian Open and then went on a brilliant run to the final of the French Open, where she lost to Maria Sharapova.

Vinci reached her first fourth round at a slam in singles at Wimbledon while, as a pair, they made the final in Australia and then won the women’s doubles title at Roland Garros. Vinci, the 20th seed, has made quiet progress through the draw but she certainly made a statement on Monday with a performance full of guile to beat an out-of-sorts Radwanska 6-1 6-4.

Vinci had lost all their four previous matches, and she said: “I’m so happy, so excited. It was a tough match for sure but I think I played a really good game today.”

And the 29-year-old does not have too many misgivings about playing Errani, saying: “For sure an Italian goes to the semi-finals so I’m happy to play Sara. She’s my best friend. I’m so pleased she won today.”

Errani was involved in a closer match against Kerber, whose brilliant year began here 12 months ago with a surprise run to the semi-finals. But Errani turned the tables, edging a very tight first set and then proving the stronger in the second to win 7-6 (7/5) 6-3.

Errani has credited her turnaround in form largely to her switch from a Wilson racquet to Babolat, and the 10th seed said: “This year with this racquet made me feel different on the court and make me feel much better. This is the best year of my life.”

The other quarter-final in the bottom half of the draw will pit fourth seed and title favourite Serena Williams against Serbia’s Ana Ivanovic. Williams had been a little below par in the early stages of the tournament, although still winning comfortably, but that was certainly not the case on Monday as she thumped Czech Andrea Hlavackova 6-0 6-0.

It was not quite as one-sided as the scoreline suggested, with Hlavackova having a number of chances to win a game in the second set, but Williams was certainly not in a charitable mood, the 30-year-old hitting 31 winners and making only seven unforced errors.

The American said: “She was fighting really hard. If you give people any type of chance, especially in tennis, the match is never over until you shake hands. There is always a comeback available. So I didn’t want to give her that opportunity. She was getting so pumped up and she never gave up. I thought that was really incredibly positive.

“I feel like I’m getting more comfortable with the court and comfortable with the conditions. I’m getting back to more my game, which is good. I like to play better during the second week. Hopefully I can do that.”

Williams will be a big favourite to beat Ivanovic, who she has seen off in straight sets in each of their previous three meetings, including in the fourth round here last year.

Williams is expecting a battle, though, saying: “She’s playing well. Every time I play her in particular she plays really well. She goes for a lot of shots. She’s such a big hitter. Obviously having been number one, having that grand slam under your belt, she knows what it’s like to win.”

Ivanovic’s one grand slam title came at the French Open in 2008, after which she fell away to such an extent that this is her first time back in the quarter-finals at any of the sport’s four major tournaments since.

The 24-year-old joked after beating Tsvetana Pironkova 6-0 6-4 that if she had known it would have taken her so long to get back to the quarter-finals, she would have gone on holiday for four years. She said: “It’s been like a rollercoaster. There were some good moments and some tough ones, but it’s a process. I understand it better now.

“There are times when you realise that it’s exactly what it is: it’s a process. You can’t have everything at the same time. You have to be consistent on the practice courts and then in the matches. I felt I had that this year. I have been quite consistent at times.

“I put myself lots of times in opportunities for the big matches and the big wins, and I never managed to do that. Now I have another chance, and I really hope I can pull it together this time.”

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