Serena Survives Longest Match
Published May 10, 2010 12:00
MADRID, Spain - She played - and lost - a nail-biter in her last match in Rome, but history didn't repeat itself in Madrid, as Serena Williams battled for nearly three and a half hours to beat Vera Dushevina in the first round of Mutua Madrileña Madrid Open, even saving match point en route to the win.
Williams, ranked No.1 in the world for a 102nd career week this week and the Premier event's top seed, got past Dushevina, 67(2) 76(5) 76(5). She had three set points in the first set, both on the Russian's serve - one at 5-4, two at 6-5 - but didn't convert. And in the second set she saved a match point down 6-5.
In the third, Williams squandered a 5-2 lead and would eventually have to fight back from 0-4 in the tie-break to pull out the three-hour, 26-minute win. It was the longest match of her career. Highlights: S.Williams vs. Dushevina
"I think I played seven matches today," Williams said. "I definitely wasn't playing my best tennis, but after playing for that long, I didn't want to lose."
"I felt bad about the last time when I had match point. I had to hang in there."
In the other two second round matches on Monday, No.15 seed Francesca Schiavone cruised past Sybille Bammer, 62 61, and later on, No.4 seed Venus Williams rallied from 2-4, 15-40 to beat Vera Zvonareva, 75 63. It was Williams' seventh straight win over the Russian, six of those straight sets.
The first round also wrapped up, with No.2 seed Caroline Wozniacki, No.8 seed Samantha Stosur, No.13 seed Li Na, No.14 seed Flavia Pennetta and No.16 seed Nadia Petrova among those winning. No.10 seed Victoria Azarenka wasn't as fortunate, losing the first three games to Peng Shuai then retiring due to a right thigh strain. Highlights: Wozniacki vs. Kvitova
In the very last match of the day, No.3 seed and defending champion Dinara Safina lost to qualifier Klara Zakopalova, 76(1) 76(3), the Czech's second win in as many meetings. Safina never had set points but was up 4-1 in the first set and served for the second twice. Highlights: Zakopalova vs. Safina
"The result today was about lack of match practice," Safina said. "I have hardly hit a ball in three months and you can't really expect much when you have had no practice and no matches. I have to look ahead and get some matches."
"I've beaten Monica Seles and Serena Williams before, but this is one of my biggest wins," Zakopalova said. "I don't think Dinara was at her best today, though. She didn't play for a while, but a win is a win and I'm very happy!"