Sara Errani survived a back-and-forth battle against Venus Williams at the 2014 U.S. Open, winning the third-round match 6-0, 0-6, 7-6(5).
Williams, a seven-time Grand Slam champion, hasn't been able to make her way out of the third round of any major this year. Her last Grand Slam victory was in 2008 at Wimbledon.
This was a strange result from two players who have had plenty of success in their careers. Errani was incredibly accurate in the first set, getting 16 of her 18 first serves in play while winning 12 of those 16 points.
Errani, per The Associated Press (via ABC News), said, "Even if I won the first set 6-love, she's an amazing player."
The No. 13 seed achieved a rare feat in the first set, as ESPN Stats and Info noted:
Venus Williams loses 1st set vs Sara Errani, 6-0. It's the 2nd time Venus has lost a set 6-0 at the US Open (also in 2009)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 29, 2014
However, Williams picked up her play in the second set and did not even face a break point. She earned 14 winners to just eight unforced errors and appeared ready to turn things around with a bagel of her own.
In the third set, though, both competitors came to play. Errani ended up totaling 43 points to Williams' 41 in an incredibly close set that came down to the tiebreak. Sky Sports was impressed at the level of play on display at the end of the match:
WHAT. A. RALLY!! WOW!! Brilliant from both women. Match point Errani!— Sky Sports Tennis (@SkySportsTennis) August 29, 2014
With the tiebreak tied 5-5, Errani won the final two points, the last with a forehand winner, to escape with the win. Matt Cronin of Tennis Reporters broke down his thoughts on the match:
Props to Errnai who played aggressive & impressive over nets but Venus looked bit scared at end, especially when backhand off. Tough loss— Matt Cronin (@TennisReporters) August 29, 2014
Williams won this tournament in 2000 and 2001 but hasn't made it past the third round four years in a row. In 2014, she has so far lost in the first round at the Australian Open, second round at the French and third round at Wimbledon and U.S. Open. She will keep competing, but it is clear her best days are behind her.
Meanwhile, Errani will now face Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in the fourth round, a match that is less daunting after the Croatian veteran upset No. 2 Simona Halep. Errani was a semifinalist at the U.S. Open in 2012 and was runner-up at the 2012 French Open, her best showing at a major.
As long as Errani plays to her ability, she can play into the quarterfinals and beyond.
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