No. 14 seed Flavia Pennetta continued her winning ways as she dismissed No. 3 seed Venus Williams, 7-6(2), 6-4, on Thursday afternoon to advance to the quarterfinals at the Western & Southern Financial Group Women’s Open in Cincinnati.
The 27-year-old Italian has now won a career-best 14 consecutive matches, which includes winning the title last weekend at the Los Angeles Women’s Open and three weeks ago in Palermo.
“I’m really, really happy,” said Pennetta, who has now beaten three Top 10 players in her winning streak.
Throughout the match, Williams missed many routine shots and seemed out of sorts on the big points. The former World No. 1 had several unforced errors on crucial points in the later stages of the tiebreak that proved costly.
“I don’t feel like I executed my game effectively,” said Williams, who has won more than $1.5 million in tournament prize money this season. “I think I could have been more aggressive and played more in the court.”
Pennetta, who has won eight career singles titles, was steady on her serve and service returns throughout the one hour and 42 minute match. The Italian hit five aces, won 74 percent of first serve points and was able to win 25 of 38 second serve return points.
“After a while, it was obvious to see she was just keeping the ball in play and waiting for me to self destruct,” said Williams, the winner of 41 career singles titles.
As Williams sailed a forehand beyond the baseline, her 38 unforced error of the match, Pennetta raised her arms in excitement. With the victory, Pennetta improves to 4-3 lifetime against Williams, three of five which were played on hard courts.
The Italian advances to her sixth quarterfinal of the season where she will next clash with Slovakian Daniela Hantuchova, who beat No. 7 seed Vera Zvonareva, 7-6(0), 0-6, 7-6(5) in two hours and 50 minutes.
In other matches, the Kim Clijsters’ magical comeback story continues, as the Belgian knocked off No. 6 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russian, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2, to win her third straight match against a Top 20 player in as many outings.
Clijsters, who a received a wild card to play in her first tournament since retiring in May 2007, came out of the starting gates strong for the third consecutive match, hitting remarkable angles as she jumped out to a 3-0 lead. The Belgian had a brief hiccup, as her serve was broke in the seventh game, but was able to regroup to close out the set 6-4.
“I think my mindset was very good,” said Clijsters, the newest mother on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. “”I really felt like in the rallies that I was dominating the points. “
The Belgian jumped out to another quick 3-0 lead to open the second set, before Kuznetsova fired back by winning six of the next seven games to win the second set, 6-4.
“Second set I fought hard. She was a break up and I still came back,” said Kuznetsova, a winner of 11 career singles titles including two grand slams. “
The players took a 10-minute break before the start of the final set due to the heat index rule. When they returned, Clijsters was in complete control throughout the final set, winning in convincing fashion, 6-2. Clijsters now improves to 7-1 lifetime against Kuznetsova.
“I am very happy to be able to stay focused,” said Clijsters. “I have to say I feel really good after this match.”
Clijsters will next face world No. 1 Dinara Safina, who cruised past Shuai Peng, 6-3, 6-4 in the night match.
In the final match on Stadium Court during the day session, unseeded Sybille Bammer upset No. 2 seed Serena Williams, 7-5, 6-4. Williams was off her game from start to finish, hitting 44 unforced errors, 25 of which were in the opening set. The reigning Wimbledon, Australian and US Open champ hit four double faults and just two aces, compared to 13 aces last night in her victory over Kateryna Bondarenko. Bammer, who improves to 2-0 life against Williams, hit nine winners and just 16 unforced errors in the one hour and 35 minute match. Bammer will next face No. 5 Jelena Jankovic, who defeated No. 9 Victoria Azarenka, 7-5, 7-6(4).
Other winners on Thursday in Cincinnati
No. 4 Elena Dementieva def. Sorana Cirstea, 6-4, 6-4
No. 8 Caroline Wozniacki def. Melinda Czink, 3-0 ret. Injury (low back)