CHARLESTON, SC, USA - A slew of former champions made the quarters of the Family Circle Cup on Thursday, though the day didn't all go to form, most notably Polona Hercog scoring her first Top 10 win over Marion Bartoli.
Hercog came into Charleston on somewhat of a low, losing first round at nine of her last 10 tournaments (and only reaching the second round of the other). But after back-to-back wins in her first two rounds, the momentum may have swung.
World No.38 Hercog hadn't had much success against Top 10 players before either, going 0-9 against them, but with a strong start and a fantastic finish she finally got on the board, stunning No.7-ranked Bartoli in a two-hour, 28-minute marathon, 64 16 64. After Hercog won the first set Bartoli stormed through the second set and built a 4-2 lead in the third, but Hercog won the last four games.
Hercog, the No.14 seed, will also be playing in her first Premier quarterfinal. Facing her will be No.13 seed Nadia Petrova, who beat No.8 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, 61 64 - it could be considered an upset on paper, although Petrova has now beaten her in straight sets all three times they have played.
"I think the last couple of tournaments she was out in the early rounds, so I'm sure it affected her confidence today," Petrova said of Pavlyuchenkova. "I also didn't see a coach today with her so I think it's difficult just to be out there alone.
"She had a good season last year and there's a lot for her to defend this year, so maybe she kind of feels the pressure a little bit. Maybe it affects her tennis."
The other third round matches went to form, with No.4 seed Vera Zvonareva battling past Swiss qualifier Stefanie Voegele, 57 63 64; No.5 seed Serena Williams cruising past No.17 seed Marina Erakovic, 62 62; No.6 seed Sabine Lisicki rallying from a break down in both sets to beat Kazakh qualifier Yaroslava Shvedova, 75 64; No.9 seed Lucie Safarova beating Canada's Aleksandra Wozniak, 62 67(4) 61; and Venus Williams overcoming a slow 2-4 start to beat Australa's Anastasia Rodionova in straight sets, 75 62.
The last match of the night wasn't completed due to rain. At the time of suspension, No.2 seed Sam Stosur was leading Galina Voskoboeva in the first set, 4-2, 15-0. Should Stosur win that, she would play Venus Williams - Williams has won all four of their previous meetings in straight sets.
"I think Sam has such an interesting game - she's one of the power players in the game, but clay courts suit her very well, so it's an interesting mix," Williams said. "If I do play her, I guess I'll try to do better than she does, and try to win the match. That's all I can say. I haven't played her in a long time. We'll see."
"It can only get better," Lisicki said of that meeting. "I was very nervous there in the beginning. I made some terrible mistakes and overhit way too many balls. In the second set I actually had chances - the games were close, and it was a good match from mid-second set on. So I hope I can start like that tomorrow."