It took her three sets, three hours and sixteen minutes, and five match points, but 9th seed Sam Stosur advanced to the round of 16 at the U.S. Open tonight when she defeated 24th seed Nadia Petrova 7-6, 6-7, 7-5. This match had a bit of everything--pressure-induced errors, beautiful winners, frustration, humor--and lots of tension. The third set was possibly the best set of tennis seen at the Open so far.
Petrova played from behind throughout much of the match, but she saved two match points in the second set, and found her way to dictating play. The momentum swung a lot during the final set, and Petrova saved a third match point with a dramatic overhead, then saved another. It looked as though a third tiebreak was coming, but Stosur was simply too strong at the end, and she broke Petrova to finally bring an end to the proceedings.
Stosur's opponent in the round of 16 will be 25th seed Maria Kirilenko, who put on a show of her very best tennis tonight during the featured match in Arthur Ashe Stadium. Kirilenko defeated home favorite Christina McHale 6-2, 6-3 with a combination of excellent serving, steady hitting and her graceful signature net play. When Kirilenko is in form, she can bring just about everything to a match, as she did tonight. She advances to the U.S. Open round of 16 for the first time in her career.
2nd seed Vera Zvonareva had a fairly smooth go of it for a set and a half this morning, but then Anabel Medina Garrigues saw and opening and took it. However, Zvonareva defeated the 30th seed 6-4, 7-5. She will play Sabine Lisicki in the next round. Lisicki ran over Irina Falconi, 6-0, 6-1, and gave a stylish ending to the match with a drop shot. Lisicki will compete against Zvonareva in the round of 16. Last year, Zvonarea defeated the German player in the second round.
19th seed Julia Goerges hurt her back during her match against Peng Shuai. Peng beat her 6-4, 7-6, but the match will be remembered by spectators for Goerges' saving four match points at 5-6 in the second set. She could hardly twist her torso, but she fought with ferocity to stay in the match. 13th seed Peng's next opponent will be Flavia Pennetta.
There were two other matches today. Angelique Kerber defeated Alla Kudryavtseva 6-3, 6-1, and Monica Niculescu upset 27th seed Lucie Safarova 6-0, 6-1. This is a really surprising scoreline, and it's safe to say that the match was not what spectators were expecting. Niculescu had an average first serve speed of 72 mph, she made four unforced errors, and she hit five winners. Almost everything she did flummoxed Safarova. The Romanian player gave Safarova no chance to develop any rhythm, as she repeatedly hit shots that had Safarova scrambling forward. For her part, the Czech player hit five winners and made nineteen unforced errors. She never saw a break opportunity.
Niculescu will play Kerber in the next round.