Venus Williams could not dig herself out of a hole on Thursday as she lost to Eugenie Bouchard of Canada 7-6 (8/6), 2-6, 6-4 at the Family Circle Cup.
Williams fought back in each of her first two matches to advance and she seemed to be following the same game plan on Thursday, rallying from a set down to win the second and lead 2-1 in the third.
That is when Bouchard took over, breaking Williams’ serve twice in the third set, including the final game.
“She played a lot more consistently than I did,” Williams said.
Bouchard finished things off by reaching Williams’ drop-shot and pushing it into the open court for her first victory over the seven-time Grand Slam champion.
“I’ve shown to myself how mentally strong I can be,” sixth seed Bouchard said. “Today was really a mental battle. It was a bit ugly at times and tough on the court, but I fought through it.”
Williams was the 2004 Family Circle Cup champion. She reached the semi-finals in Charleston, South Carolina, last year where she lost to sister Serena, the eventual champion.
Bouchard next faces second seed Jelena Jankovic, the 2007 Family Circle Cup champion who at No. 8 in world is the highest-ranked player remaining in the tournament. Jankovic defeated Croatia’s Ajla Tomljanovic 7-5, 6-1.
Jankovic has reached the Family Circle Cup quarter-finals in six of the past seven seasons. She has been beaten by a Williams sister in each of the last two years, falling to Venus in 2012 and to Serena in last year’s championship finals.
Jankovic struggled early as the 20-year-old Tomljanovic fought off a set point to tie the opening set at 5-5. Jankovic then won eight of the next nine games to advance.
“I missed that overhead on my set point, which was kind of frustrating, and we leveled it at 5 5, but I was able to stay calm, and regroup and finish that set. So that was very important,” Jankovic said.
Others advancing to the quarter-finals included third-seeded Sara Errani, who outlasted Peng Shuai of China 7-6 (8/6), 7-6 (7/5); and Andrea Petkovic, who topped fourth seed Sabine Lisicki 6-1, 6-0; while Samantha Stosur, seeded seventh, was beaten by No. 9 seed Lucie Safarova 3-6, 6-4, 6-4.
In an all-German match, 14th seed Andrea Petkovic cruised past No. 4 seed Sabine Lisicki 6-1, 6-0; Jana Cepelova of Slovakia defeated Elena Vesnina of Russia 7-6 (7/4), 3-6, 6-3; while Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia beat Teliana Pereira of Brazil 6-2, 6-3.
Errani rallied in each of her sets to eliminate Peng, the world No. 1 doubles player.
For Cepelova, it was her second big win after knocking out world No. 1 Serena Williams on Tuesday.