Hlavackova Surges, Serena's Revenge
Published September 01, 2012 12:00
NEW YORK, NY, USA - Serena Williams got some good old fashioned revenge on Saturday, beating Ekaterina Makarova, who had taken her out of the Australian Open earlier this year, and also had the honor of being the only lefty ever to beat the 14-time Grand Slam champion at a Grand Slam.
Makarova resisted the revenge mission early in the match, fending off a slew of break points and staying on serve through 4-all in the first set; but Williams cracked the match open with a break in the next game, which would begin a run of eight straight games for the No.4 seed. That No.4 seed cruised, 64 60.
"At 4-all I was just trying to get that break. Actually I was trying to break the whole time," Williams told Mary Joe Fernandez in her on-court interview. "I just started playing a little bit better and a little bit more consistently.
"I played such a good opponent today. She beat me before, in Australia this year, so going in I knew I needed to play better today, and I felt like I did."
Williams talked about being fueled by playing in front of the US fans.
"This is my home crowd, so it's hard not to be so excited to play here," she said. "Being an American and playing in New York is just so exciting."
And on the pending retirements of Kim Clijsters and Andy Roddick? "I'm nowhere near close to retiring," Williams said, which drew large cheers from the Ashe Stadium crowd. "I can't leave you guys. I love this sport way too much. And now that Andy and Kim are done, I feel like I need to stay out here more."
Next up for Williams will be a surprise opponent - Andrea Hlavackova, who had never been past the second round of a Grand Slam previously and had never even played the main draw at the US Open, took out No.14 seed Maria Kirilenko in a grueling three-setter on the Grandstand, 57 64 64. Hlavackova's win over the No.12-ranked Kirilenko was the best win of her career.
"It's a great feeling to win a big match like this. I cannot believe it," Hlavackova said. "This is the reason why I play, to be in the last 16 in a Grand Slam."
Williams and Hlavackova will be playing each other in singles for the first time - the two have played each other several times in doubles though, and Hlavackova was asked if it was intimidating to be across the net from she and sister Venus in that discipline. "Yes it is," she said. "They are strong athletes. Their serves are big, their strokes are huge, they have a lot of power, and if you want to pass them somehow they are everywhere - lob no way, to the side they are there. If you see them across the net, you really have big respect for both of them.
"But I've never played Serena in singles so that's a different thing."
Another fourth round match was set earlier on in the day, with Agnieszka Radwanska and Roberta Vinci both winning their third round matches in straight sets. No.2 seed Radwanska beat No.30 seed Jelena Jankovic, 63 75, her third straight win over the Serb; and No.20 seed Vinci beat No.13 seed Dominika Cibulkova, 62 75, an upset on paper but not given the head-to-head between the two - Vinci has now beaten the Slovak four times in a row.
"I played really well today, especially in the beginning - I was playing very aggressively," Vinci said. "At the end I was so nervous I missed a lot of forehands, but I just kept playing aggressively and I'm so happy I won."
Vinci reached her very first Grand Slam fourth round at Wimbledon, and is now already through to another one at the US Open. "When I saw the draw I thought it was a tough draw, but step by step I've made it," the Italian added.
It really has been step by step, or point by point even - in her second round match she saved two match points against Yaroslava Shvedova. Now she faces Radwanska - Radwanska leads the head-to-head series, 4-0.
"She's a great player," Vinci said of the World No.2. "I'll have to play very well, but I'm feeling confident right now, so we will see what happens."
Vinci has had five Top 10 wins in her career but only one Top 5 win - that was over then-World No.1 Caroline Wozniacki at Toronto last summer.