August 30, 2014
Venus Williams and second seed Simona Halep went crashing out of the US Open at Flushing Meadows.
But the biggest talking point was the behaviour of the woman who defeated Venus 6-0, 0-6, 7-6 (5) – Italy’s erratic star, Sara Errani. She cupped an ear to question the American crowd’s muted reaction to her victory and put a finger to her lips as if to tell them to be quiet.
Errani seemed to be suggesting that the crowd’s yelling had put her off during a service game or two. Yet the noise had been nothing out of the ordinary. Neither had the American audience been anything less than appreciative of her battling tennis. They even gave the Italian a standing ovation after she won an epic tie-breaker exchange.
Errani seemed to want to adopt a “me-against-the-world” attitude right to the death – but it looked a little ugly when all was said and done. In fact the number 13 seed was at a loss to explain her own behaviour and said afterwards: ‘I don’t know why I did that. I was with the tension, with the adrenalin in the body, so I just – I don’t know. I don’t know how to explain it.’ She certainly hadn’t encountered the problems that led Stan Wawrinka to yell at the crowd earlier in the week. And consequently Errani may face a more hostile reception next time she steps out.
Another Williams sister, Serena, looks an even stronger favourite for the title after Simona Halep’s surprising 6-7 (6), 2-6 exit to Mirjana Lucic-Baroni. Errani now plays the Croatian.
Meanwhile Sabine Lisicki, the darling of Wimbledon two years ago, squandered a promising second-set position to fall at the hands of the noisy Maria Sharapova. The German led 3-1 in the second set but couldn’t maintain that lead and Sharapova’s greater desire shone through under the lights. She ran out a 6-2, 6-4 winner just after midnight in New York – and told the crowd she was looking forward to a late-night hug from her boyfriend Girigor Dimitrov. But Sharapova’s continuing problems with her serve suggest that she may struggle to win the US Open this year.
No such worries for Roger Federer, who thrilled the Arthur Ashe crowd by returning the 142mph serve of Sam Groth with regular disdain. It took The Fed just 108 minutes to win through 6-4, 6-4, 6-4, and he is clearly loving every minute of his resurgent year. There have been few shocks in the men’s tournament so far. That means we can look forward to some classic clashes from now until the final.
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