>> Thursday, May 17, 2012
It may be too early to say so, but the Williams sisters’ progress in Rome’s 2012 Internazionali BNL d'Italia tennis tournament is starting to look like they’re peaking right in time for the French Open 2012 to be held less than 10 days from today. Or, maybe it’s older sister Venus who is peaking, and that younger sister Serena is the one at risk of peaking too early. On Thursday, both Venus and Serena dominated opponents to reach the quarterfinals of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in straight set victories.
Serena is enjoying her longest winning streak on clay court events. She has now won 16 matches in row taking titles at Charleston and Madrid, and helping the US Fed Cup team beat Ukraine last month. She has beaten three top five players during that run including world no. 1 Victoria Azarenka, no. 2 Maria Sharapova, and no. 5 Samantha Stosur. She didn’t just win those encounters; she blew her opponents away losing a maximum number of four games in those three matches.
With the withdrawal of Azarenka, and with no. 3-seed Agnieszka Radwanska falling to Petra Cetkovska in the previous round, Serena’s half of the draw seemed to have opened up. Her quarterfinal opponent would be Italian veteran Flavia Pennetta and if she gets past that, she will be going up against either last year’s French Open champ and no. 8-seed Li Na or no. 14-seed Dominika Cibulkova for a shot at the finals. Serena has previously expressed her longing of being able to add another French Open trophy to her lone victory ten years ago, and with the way she has been playing, it’s getting more convincing that she could be the top favorite to clinch this year’s Roland Garros title.
As for Venus, her progress has been slow and steady since returning to tennis action in this year’s Miami tennis tournament. Venus, currently ranked a modest no. 63 dealt world no. 5 Samantha Stosur a 64 63 beating to advance to the quarterfinal round. The victory avenged Venus’ quarterfinal loss to Stosur in Charleston and improves her record against the Australian to five wins against a single loss. Stosur is a formidable opponent on clay having reached the semifinals and finals of the French Open previously.
Venus will now advance to the quarterfinals where she will face a former world no. 1. She will play the winner of the late evening match between Sharapova and no. 13-seed Ana Ivanovic and as of this writing, the pair are locked up in a 6-6 4 points all tie in the first set. [Update: Sharapova downed Ivanovic 76(4) 63.] Venus’ win against Stosur assured her of an automatic place in the US Olympics team as she will now rise to at least world no. 52 when new rankings are released on Monday.
Other winners in Rome on Thursday included no. 4-seed and Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and promising German Angelique Kerber. Kvitova needed three sets to beat Sorana Cirstea 62 57 62, while Kerber had an easier time disposing of fellow German Julia Goerges 64 61. Kvitova and Kerber will battle to decide who will contest final slot against the winner of the Sharapova-Venus quarterfinal. If Kerber wins, she would have won six of her past 10 meetings with Top 10 players and will guarantee her a top 10 ranking for the first time in her career.
Rome 2012 Internazionali BNL d'Italia - WTA Tennis Results
Singles - Third Round
(4) Petra Kvitova (CZE) d. Sorana Cirstea (ROU) 62 57 62
(WC) Venus Williams (USA) d. (5) Samantha Stosur (AUS) 64 63
(9) Serena Williams (USA) d. Anabel Medina Garrigues (ESP) 63 61
(12) Angelique Kerber (GER) d. Julia Goerges (GER) 64 61
Flavia Pennetta (ITA) d. Petra Cetkovska (CZE) 60 61
(8) Na Li (CHN) d. Chanelle Scheepers (RSA) 76(3) 62
(2) Maria Sharapova d. (13) Ana Ivanovic (SRB) 76(4) 63
Doubles - Second Round
Pennetta/Schiavone (ITA/ITA) d. (2) Peschke/Srebotnik (CZE/SLO) 62 64
(3) Errani/Vinci (ITA/ITA) d. Dulko/Suárez (ARG/ARG) 63 64
Hampton/Tatishvili (USA/GEO) d. (6) Goerges/King (GER/USA) 63 76(3)
Cibulkova/Husarova (SVK/SVK) d. (7) Grandin/Uhlirova (RSA/CZE) 63 62
Makarova/Vesnina (RUS/RUS) d. Craybas/Stephens (USA/USA) 64 62
Chuang/Dushevina (TPE/RUS) d. (WC) Camerin/Knapp (ITA/ITA) 36 61 105