Venus Williams survived an error-strewn performance to reach the quarter-finals of the ASB Classic with a tense three-set win over Austrian Yvonne Meusburger yesterday.
In the rain-disrupted match, the 33-year-old Williams was broken twice early as she dropped the first set 4-6, before rallying to win the next two 6-3, 6-2.
She next faces Spaniard Garbine Muguruza, who dropped the first set against Canadian qualifier Sharon Fichman before recovering to win 1-6, 6-3, 6-3.
Williams, who also struggled against wild-card Andrea Hlavackova of the Czech Republic in the first round, said she would not adopt a conservative approach just to win points.
“If I stop being aggressive and start playing her game, that’s when I’m really in trouble,” Williams said. “So it’s better for me to get it out of my system and they start landing, than for me to push back and not move forward.”
Although former world No. 1 Williams has struggled in Auckland and her world ranking has slipped to No. 47, fifth seed and fellow American Jamie Hampton said she remains a threat.
“The top half of the draw has fallen apart, but also you’ve got the unseeded Venus Williams, which is a bit of a tough one,” said Hampton, the only seeded player left in her half of the draw.
Hampton, who qualified for the quarter-finals with a straight forward 6-3, 6-4 win over Kristyna Pliskova, is ranked 28th in the world, but sees advantages in not being under the same spotlight as Williams.
“No one really knows who I am so I can float under the radar a bit, but I’d like some exposure,” she said.
Of the other seeded players in action on the third day, second seed Ana Ivanovic of Serbia cruised to a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Swede Johanna Larsson and third seed Kirsten Flipkens beat Karolina Pliskova, Kristyna’s twin, 6-4, 6-3.
The Belgian raced to a 5-0 lead in the first set, then lost concentration and dropped four straight games before regaining her rhythm.
In the doubles quarter-finals, Taiwan’s Chan Chin-wei and her partner, Xu Yifan of China, were knocked out 6-1, 7-5 by fourth seeds Mona Barthel of Germany and Megan Moulton-Levy of the US.
Chinese tennis star Li Na beat Nadiya Kichenok of Ukraine in straight sets yesterday on a day of upsets at the Shenzhen Open, while Taiwan’s Chan Yung-jan was eliminated after winning the first set of her second-round match.
The 31-year-old Li, the tournament’s top seed, downed Kichenok 6-1, 6-4 at the Longgang Tennis Center in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen.
Romania’s Monica Niculescu came from behind to beat Chan after dropping the first set 2-6. Niculescu took the last two 6-3, 6-0.
In the day’s biggest upset, Vania King of the US downed second seed Sara Errani of Italy 2-6, 7-6 (9/7), 6-3.
Meanwhile, Patricia Mayr-Achleitner of Austria upset third seed Klara Zakopalova of the Czech Republic in straight sets 7-6 (7/2), 6-4 and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova defeated seventh seed Zheng Jie of China 6-0, 7-6 (8/6).
In the doubles quarter-finals, Niculescu and Zakopalova beat top seeds Zhang Shuai and Zheng Saisai of China 6-3, 6-4, while Chan’s miserable day was complete when she and partner Janette Husarova of Slovakia, the No. 4 seeds, were defeated 6-3, 6-2 by Britain’s Johanna Konta and Mayr-Achleitner.
Additional reporting by staff writer