Saturday, February 24, 2018
Sports

Venus Williams out at U.S. Open

NEW YORK — A day before facing Venus Williams — and a partisan crowd — at the U.S. Open, Italy's Sara Errani came across a video posted on Twitter that gave her a little extra motivation.

It showed former players and coaches Brad Gilbert and Darren Cahill forecasting Friday at Flushing Meadows. Both picked Williams to win.

The 13th-seeded Errani's ears perked up, particularly when Gilbert referred to her "cottage cheese" serve and predicted she would win only four games.

So much for that. In a riveting third-round match of wild momentum swings, 19th seed Williams, a two-time U.S. Open champion, came within two points of victory four times before succumbing to Errani 6-0, 0-6, 7-6 (7-5).

"Let's just say that during the match I thought about that (video) more than once," Errani, 27, said.

Williams is 34, has an autoimmune disease and hasn't been to the fourth round at a major since 2011. She also played a doubles match Thursday with her sister Serena that lasted about 21/2 hours and finished shortly before 8 p.m.

"I guess the schedule definitely wasn't ideal," Williams said. "It was just such a late match."

After losing to Errani, Williams played doubles again and won. She was treated by a trainer during the match.

Williams, 3-0 against Errani until Friday, did not blame injury or fatigue for the way she failed to close out Errani, including getting broken while serving at 5-3 in the third.

"I went for too much," said Williams, who made 52 unforced errors. "She just played one of the best matches of her life."

Errani faces qualifier Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, who stunned second-ranked Simona Halep 7-6 (8-6), 6-2. Lucic-Baroni, 32, hadn't made a Grand Slam round of 16 since 1999, waylaid by injuries and financial struggles. Sixth seed Angelique Kerber also was upset, losing 6-1, 7-5 to Switzerland's Belinda Bencic, 17. Bencic is coached by Martina Hingis' mother, Melanie Molitor, and made it to the third round of Wimbledon this year.

Tenth seed Caroline Wozniacki advanced to the fourth round for the first time since 2011 by beating Andrea Petkovic 6-3, 6-2.

No. 5 Maria Sharapova played 2013 Wimbledon runnerup Sabine Lisicki in the night's last match.

The men's draw, in contrast, has gone pretty much to form. No. 2 Roger Federer's 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 win over Sam Groth closed the second round with only two top-20 men departed: No. 11 Ernests Gulbis and No. 15 Fabio Fognini, both eliminated Friday.

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