Venus Downs Stosur, Kerber Eyes Top 10

The Williams sisters both won in straight sets. Angelique Kerber is a win away from the Top 10.

Published May 17, 2012 12:00

Venus Downs Stosur, Kerber Eyes Top 10
Venus Williams

ROME, Italy - Venus Williams scored the second Top 5 win of her comeback to the WTA on Thursday, staying strong on both the serve and the return to beat World No.5 Samantha Stosur at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia, 64 63.

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After winning their first four meetings in straight sets, Williams lost to Stosur in the quarterfinals of Charleston last month; but the former No.1 got back on the horse in Rome with another straight set win, surviving a bizarre first set where there were only three holds in 10 service games, then rallying from 3-1 down in the second set to close the No.5 seed out in an hour and 32 minutes.

Williams also had a Top 5 win over Petra Kvitova in Miami, her very first tournament back after a seven-month lay-off from the tour due to illness.

"Every match is a lesson and a challenge for me. I think that all wins are great wins nowadays," Williams said. "I've had to get used to a lot of things and I'm still figuring out a lot. I'm making adjustments at the beginning of every week.

"All I can do is be positive when I'm down."

Serena Williams, the No.9 seed this week, also moved through, cruising to a 63 61 victory over Anabel Medina Garrigues and extending her clay court winning streak to 16 matches in a row, tying Dinara Safina (in 2009) and Sara Errani (this year) for longest clay court winning streak since Justine Henin won 27 matches in a row on the dirt between the 2005 and 2006 seasons.

"I've played here for a long time and I've had a lot of memorable matches on Pietrangeli court," Williams said. "Today reminded me of when I was young."

Williams was asked about her sister's win over Stosur. "Venus has been through so much, but she's still so great," she said. "I think of her whenever I'm down or tired. I've never been so motivated to continue on my journey."

Both Williams sisters are former champions in Rome, Venus Williams in 1999 and Serena Williams in 2002. They are on opposite halves of the draw.

Elsewhere, the two best lefties in the game set up a quarterfinal clash, as No.4 seed Petra Kvitova cruised through the first and third sets for a 62 57 62 victory over Sorana Cirstea, and No.12 seed Angelique Kerber won nine of the last 10 games of the match to beat fellow German Julia Goerges, 64 61.

"Sorana made many mistakes and her shots were flying in the first set, but then she started to be more precise in the second set," Kvitova said. "I tried to come back in the second set, I was down 5-1 and got to 5-all, but she won it. But I started waiting for the right shots again in the third. I'm happy to win today."

"It was a very tough match mentally, because I know Julia very well," Kerber said. "We are friends so it was not easy for me, also not for her. My goal was to focus on myself. It's nice to be in the quarters for the first time here in Rome."

Kvitova beat Kerber in their only previous meeting, just last month, a 64 64 win in the quarterfinals of Stuttgart. It was Kvitova's 15th win in her last 16 quarterfinal matches on the WTA, her only loss in that stretch coming in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open last year (to Vera Zvonareva).

Kerber has won five of her last nine matches against Top 10 players, and if she beats Kvitova on Friday she will not only improve that to six of 10, she will join the Top 10 herself, passing current No.10 Zvonareva - she would become the seventh German ever to rank Top 10 (after Sylvia Hanika, Bettina Bunge, Claudia Kohde-Kilsch, Steffi Graf, Anke Huber and Andrea Petkovic).

"I'm not thinking about being in the Top 10 at the moment. I will just go out there and try my best," Kerber said. "Petra is another lefty. We played in Stuttgart a couple of weeks ago and she was too tough. We'll see what happens this time."

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