LONDON, England - It was a mixed day for the Williams sisters at the Olympic Tennis Event on Wednesday, with Serena Williams in crushing form but, despite showing strong form, Venus Williams getting edged.
Serena Williams, the No.4 seed, was ruthless against Vera Zvonareva, hitting fewer unforced errors (8 to 10) and completely dominating in the winners department (32 to 3) to rout the No.13-seeded Russian in 51 minutes, 61 60.
"Indoors, grass, it doesn't get better than this," Williams beamed. "Grass is a dream court, but then to play indoors on grass? Oh my God, it's crazy.
"I was nervous going into the match. I didn't speak to anyone. I had a bad practice. I thought, 'Gosh I'm stressed out.' But I think I played better today, and even in my second round, than any match I played at Wimbledon. I was playing unbelievable. I felt good. I was relaxed. I felt no pressure out there.
"I had no idea I would play like this. I was a little surprised."
Zvonareva wasn't surprised. "She's always focused and she's always there to fight and I don't expect anything else from her," she said. "I'm disappointed but I really did the best I could out there. Serena's just a great champion."
Next for Williams is No.8 seed Caroline Wozniacki, who defeated Daniela Hantuchova, 64 62. Williams leads Wozniacki in their head-to-head, 4-1, though they are tied this year, 1-1, and this is their first meeting on grass.
"Serena is playing really well. She played unbelievable today," Wozniacki said. "You definitely have to go out and play your best tennis to beat her."
The other quarterfinal match on the top half of the draw will pit Victoria Azarenka against Angelique Kerber, both winning very tight two-setters against very accomplished veterans in their respective third round matches.
The No.1-seeded Azarenka was the first to advance, escaping triple set point trailing 6-3 in the first set tie-break then rallying from 4-2 down in the second set to make it past No.16-seeded Russian veteran Nadia Petrova, 76(6) 64.
"I was down 6-3 in the tie-break and it didn't look really good for me, but I tried to stay tough and take it one by one and get even, and when I got my opportunity, I took it," Azarenka commented afterwards. "It was a tough one. We were really toe-to-toe out there. The difference was a few balls and opportunities."
The No.7-seeded Kerber had an even closer call, edging Venus Williams in a pair of tie-breaks, 76(5) 76(5). Williams had all sorts of chances in the first set - she had three set points leading 5-4, served for the set at 6-5 and led 5-2 in the tie-break. She was even up a break early in the second set, but Kerber escaped every time and eventually scored her WTA-leading 48th match win of the year.
"Venus was playing very well today, but I just tried to be tough and play my game," Kerber said. "I'm very excited to be in the quarterfinals here."
"I was disappointed to lose the first set; I still tried hard in the second set but she had a lot of answers," Williams said about the World No.7. "She has had a great year this year and I have to give her credit for playing well today."
Azarenka beat Kerber in the pair's only previous meeting, earlier this year.