French Open champion Ana Ivanovic produced a maddeningly inconsistent display as she was stunned by Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 at the Italian Open WTA on Wednesday.
World No. 1 Dinara Safina almost joined Ivanovic on the scrap-heap, but she fought back from a double break down in the third set to beat Chinese 14th seed Zheng Jie 5-7, 6-1, 7-6 (7/3).
Fifth seed Ivanovic had a disastrous start but she regrouped and seemed to be cruising into the quarter-finals at 4-0 up in the third set after a run of winning 10 out of 13 games.
But just as her first set play had been terribly inconsistent, so her demons returned and 10th seed Radwanska reeled off the final six games to clinch the match.
Ivanovic, who has struggled with injury and form since her success at Roland Garros last June, has not won a tournament this year and reached only one final.
And this performance was typical of her erratic recent form, poor to begin with, then back in the swing of things before losing her touch again at the end.
Radwanska will face fourth seed Venus Williams in the last eight after the American labored to a 6-0, 6-7 (8/10), 6-4 win over unseeded Russian Anna Chakvetadze in two hours, 20 minutes.
The first set lasted only 23 minutes and world No. 5 Venus looked like she would stroll through, but Chakvetadze is a former world No. 5 herself and she gritted her teeth and fought back to take the five-time Wimbledon champion to the brink.
Safina, meanwhile, struggled to victory in two-and-a-half hours but came close to losing a see-saw match. She was broken four times in the first set before romping away with the second.
She was broken again in the opening game of the decider and when she was broken again for the seventh time in the match to go down 5-2, it looked as if an upset was on the cards.
But the top seeded Russian knuckled down and ground her way back into the match to force a tie-break.
Reigning two-time champion Jelena Jankovic barely had to break sweat as she coasted into the quarter-finals when Kateryna Bondarenko retired with an illness with the Serbian leading 6-1, 1-0.
AFP, ESTORIL, PORTUGAL
American James Blake gained a much-needed boost to his clay court campaign on Wednesday at the Estoril Open as he won his first match on the surface this season.
The world No. 16 defeated Portugal’s No. 1 player Federico Gil, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, requiring a comeback and nearly two hours to bring his record for this year on the dirt to 1-2 as he reached the second round.
Nikolay Davydenko, the second seed, won his second match in as many days, defeating ailing former clay court master Juan Carlos Ferrero 7-5, 6-2.
Spaniard Oscar Hernandez knocked out struggling third seed David Ferrer 6-2, 6-4.
In women’s WTA play, Slovak Jarmila Groth upset top seed Iveta Benesova 7-5, 6-4, while defending champion Maria Kirilenko, the No. 2, stayed in the chase for another title, reaching the last eight with a 6-3, 6-0 win over Argentine Maria Salerni. The five other seeds on court all won their matches into the last eight.
Marin Cilic of Croatia won the first eight games and swept past Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-0, 6-4 on Wednesday to reach the quarter-finals of the BMW Open.
Mikhail Youzhny of Russia upset third-seeded Nicolas Almagro of Spain 7-6 (2), 6-4.
Sixth-seeded Nicolas Kiefer of Germany was also upset, losing to Jeremy Chardy of France 6-4, 7-6 (8).
AP, BELGRADE, SERBIA
Top-seeded Novak Djokovic beat fellow Serb Janko Tipsarevic 6-2, 4-6, 6-0 on Wednesday to advance to the quarter-finals of the Serbia Open, the country’s first ever ATP Tour event.
Djokovic will next face another Serb in fifth-seeded Victor Troicki, who beat Marcel Granollers of Spain 6-3, 6-4.
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