NEW YORK, NY, USA - The US Open is Flavia Pennetta's best Grand Slam - she has reached all three of her Grand Slam quarterfinals at this event, after all - and she rose up on Arthur Ashe Stadium again on Thursday, beating No.4 seed Sara Errani in straight sets in a second round stunner, 63 61.
Pennetta was by far the aggressor against Errani from start to finish, her unforced errors almost even with Errani (Pennetta 19, Errani 18) but hitting almost three times the winners as her fellow Italian (Pennetta 33, Errani 12). At the end of the day it was all too much and Pennetta was just too good.
"I was really aggressive from the beginning, but I think the key was my serve," said Pennetta, who fired seven aces in the match. "I was serving really well today and that was the biggest difference."
Pennetta's win over the No.5-ranked Errani was her 10th career win over a Top 5 player. Her first nine came against Justine Henin, Jelena Jankovic (twice), Venus Williams, Samantha Stosur (twice), Vera Zvonareva, Maria Sharapova and Caroline Wozniacki. But this one may have been the toughest.
"It's not easy to play one of your friends, but tennis is like this," Pennetta said. "You just have to go on the court leave it all out there - you have to play your game and not think about who you're playing."
Errani was asked if being promoted to the No.4 seed after Sharapova's withdrawal has affected her.
"Yeah, absolutely, yeah," Errani said. "I don't know how to explain it, but it's very difficult. I know the situation. I know what all the players are expecting from me, and I would like to do it, but it's never the same. So I hope this can just make me stronger, make me improve - you have to pass these bad moments and improve your serve, try and find the solutions and feel better about your game.
"Winning or losing is not my problem - it's feeling good on the court."
Awaiting Pennetta in the third round is No.27 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova, who won a two-hour, 48-minute grinder against Peng Shuai, 61 46 64. Like Pennetta, Kuznetsova loves the US Open - the Russian won the first of her two Grand Slam titles here in 2004, then the French Open in 2009.
"I think it's going to be really, really tough against her," Pennetta said of Kuznetsova. "We know each other really well and we've played doubles together before, and she's a friend of mine as well.
"But I've never beaten her. So I hope the first time is going to come this time!"