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Safina, Ivanovic Advance; Szavay Upsets Venus

Dinara Safina and Ana Ivanovic continued their quarterfinal collision course but their biggest potential semifinal threat was ousted.

Published May 29, 2009 04:40

Safina, Ivanovic Advance; Szavay Upsets Venus
Agnes Szavay

PARIS, France - Dinara Safina and Ana Ivanovic continued their quarterfinal collision course but their biggest potential semifinal threat was ousted, as Agnes Szavay pulled off a stunning win over Venus Williams.

Szavay, seeded No.29 but a former Top 15 player with six Top 10 wins to her name, earned her seventh such win over the game's highest elite in dominant fashion, cruising through the first set in just half an hour and enduring a tighter second set to beat world No.3 Williams, 60 64.

"I had a tough day, and I didn't get the ball in the court, and that didn't help me at all," said Williams, who did recover somewhat in the second set, holding a point for a 5-3 lead at one point. "I'm used to beating people 6-0. I'm not used to my shots not going in and losing a set 6-0. So it was completely foreign ground for me. I had a lot of struggles out there and you've got to play well. Today it just didn't come together for me."

"This may be the biggest win of my career. It's for sure one of the biggest ones," Szavay said. "I just kept playing my game and always concentrated on the next point, then I realized I had match point. I started to think, 'Oh my God, I have match point against Venus.' But suddenly it was over and I won the match."

Williams is a former French Open finalist, losing the title match to Serena Williams in 2002, but apart from that has never been past the quarterfinals. This was her third straight loss in the third round, having fallen to Jelena Jankovic at this stage in 2007 and to Flavia Pennetta in the same round 12 months ago.

Safina and Ivanovic, who squared off for the title here a year ago, had no trouble in their matches. Safina, the No.1 seed and last year's runner-up, crushed No.27 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, 62 60, now losing just four games in her first three matches combined; Ivanovic, the No.8 seed and defending champion, beat No.32 seed Iveta Benesova by a similar straight set scoreline, 60 62.

"We had a few very tough games at the start but when I broke her I started playing much more aggressively, and then I was dominating," said Safina, the first player in 15 years to lose less than five games en route to the fourth round. "I just try to be dominant on the court. If I don't, the other player will take their chances and it'll be 50/50. But if I am I know it's not easy to handle my level."

Other third round winners on Friday were No.20 seed Dominika Cibulkova, who beat Gisela Dulko, 64 62; No.25 seed Li Na, who beat Olga Govortsova, 75 61; Aravane Rezai, who beat qualifier Michelle Larcher de Brito, 76(3) 62; and last but definitely not least Maria Sharapova, who continued her comeback with another comeback, battling to beat qualifier Yaroslava Shvedova, 16 63 64.

"I dug a nice pothole for myself there. That's kind of what I've been doing the last few rounds," Sharapova said on the slow start. "I got rid of all of those errors and started playing better. Even if I'm playing horribly in the beginning of the match, I know it's not over 'til it's over. I've given myself a chance to play another match. That's the only thing I can ask for now."

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