Serena Overcomes Choking Petrova at Aussie Open

Posted on January 19, 2007

Unseeded Serena Williams executed an inspired comeback, helped along by her Russian opponent, when the American came back from a set and a break down to upend No. 5-seeded Nadia Petrova 1-6, 7-5, 6-3 Friday to advance into the fourth round at the Australian Open.

Petrova's history of getting tight in big-match situations reared its head when the Russian served for the contest at 6-1, 5-4. Petrova failed to close the deal, then serving at 5-6 she double faulted to hand the American the set, failing to match Williams' fighting spirit.

"I had no other option than for my game to go up," Williams told reporters of her slow start. "I was on the verge of being out of the tournament, and I obviously didn't want that to happen. I told myself to stay in there...and it will come together sooner or later."

Petrova said she was not surprised to see Williams raise her game as her resolve faltered.

"She came up with unbelievable returns; she just went for it and she produced an unbelievable backhand winner up the line, from far behind the court," Petrova said. "I'm not surprised at all. They've always been tough competitors, her and her sister. Whenever they have to play a tough opponent, they raise their game."

It was an impressive physical display for the American who again appeared to show up in Melbourne not in peak physical form.

"I wasn't winded," Williams said. "I was ready to keep going. I wasn't tired at all. I'm still not tired. I feel like going to run a marathon."

Petrova was forced to eat crow after earlier comments to FOX Sports on the demise of the Williams sisters.

"They've had lots of injuries and they are not in the best shape of their life," Petrova said prior to the match. "It looks like everything is leading to the end of their career because they are quite busy; they have talks shows, books, and clothing lines...their reputation isn't the same. Some young players still fear them, but the good players don't."

Serena's road only gets tougher now, next facing the hot-handed Serb Jelena Jankovic, who Friday beat Victoria Azarenka 6-3, 6-4 to advance.

"Playing Serena, it's always tough," Jankovic said. "It doesn't matter if she just came from an injury or she didn't play, she always a great champion. I've beaten her twice before. My score against her is 2-1, so I know how to play against her. I'll try my best. We'll see. It will be a good match for sure."

It was Williams' first win over a Top 10 player since she won the 2005 Australian Open title.

No. 2 Amelie Mauresmo led the seeded winners Friday, easing past Eva Birnerova, 6-3, 6-1.

Other winners on the day were (3) Svetlana Kuznetsova (d. (26) Kirilenko), (7) Elena Dementieva (d. Camerin), (10) Nicole Vaidisova (d. (21) Srebotnik), (16) Shahar Peer (d. (20) Golovin from a set down), and unseeded Czech Lucie Safarova (d. Yakimova who retired after the first set).

Scheduled for Saturday in Melbourne are (1) Sharapova vs. (30) Garbin, (6) Hingis vs. Nakamura, (8) Schnyder vs. Molik, (4) Clijsters vs. (29) A.Bondarenko, (15) Hantuchova vs. Harkleroad, (13) Ivanovic vs. (22) Zvonareva, (9) Safina vs. (19) Li, and (12) Anna Chakvetadze vs. Kostanic.