Monday, September 3, 2012

Williams crushes Hlavackova in U.S. Open round of 16

Andrea Hlavackova, who had a great win over Maria Kirilenko in the third round of the U.S. Open, walked onto the court today with bandages on both thighs. She was dealing with a hip flexor injury in one leg, and a hamstring injury in the other. But those problems were insignificant compared with Hlavackova's other problem--Serena Williams. Try as she did--and she tried hard--the Czech doubles star was unable to take even one game off of Williams. Hlavackova didn't even see a break opportunity until she was down 0-6, 0-5, and she failed to convert that one. The whole thing was over in less than an hour, but Hlavackova--to her credit--never gave up or faded away.

Also dealing with an injury was Tsvetana Pironkova, whose usually impressive serve was hampered in her match against Ana Ivanovic. Ivanovic defeated Pironkova 6-0, 6-4, and reached the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open for the first time. Ivanovic had not reached any major quarterfinals for four years, so her results in New York are already enough to give her renewed hope for her future in tennis. That's the good news. The bad news is that Ivanovic gets Serena Williams in the quarterfinals.

Both Fighting Italians won their matches today, and we said goodbye to Angelique Kerber and Agnieszka Radwanska.

Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova, who lost to Serena and Venus Williams at Wimbledon and the Olympic Games, defeated the Williams sisters in straight sets tonight. The 4th seeds won 6-1, 6-4, and will face Nuria Llagostera Vives and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez in the quarterfinals. Maria Kirilenko was simply brilliant in this match.

Former U.S. Open champions Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova were upset today by Julia Goerges and Kveta Peschke.

Tomorrow, two singles quarterfinal matches are scheduled. Top seed Victoria Azarenka will play defending champion Samantha Stosur. Azarenka has a 6-0 record against Stosur. All six matches were played on hard courts, and Azarenka won them all in straight sets. In the other quarterfinal, Marion Bartoli will play Maria Sharapova. Sharapova has a 4-0 record against Bartoli, and has never dropped a set against the Frenchwoman.

So far, this has been a really interesting U.S. Open. Defending champion Sam Stosur  is playing more or less under the radar, just as she did last year. 18-year-old Laura Robson took out a U.S. Open champion and a French Open champion. Italian best friends and doubles partners now have to play each other for a spot in the semifinals, and Marion Bartoli put a hoodoo on Petra Kvitova.

And since so much about today's Open involves Italy, I'll close with the words made famous by a certain cheeky Italian American: There's no greater power than the power of Goodbye.

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