Maria Sharapova, a US Open favorite after entering off a summer hot streak, crashed out of the Flushing Meadows in a flurry of double faults Friday, with the No. 3 seed losing to No. 26 Flavia Pennetta 6-3, 3-6, 6-4.
“I didn’t feel comfortable with most of my game today,” Sharapova said after 60 unforced errors and 12 double faults in the third round. “It’s disappointing to lose in the middle of nowhere, disappointing to lose in New York.”
Serving to stay in the match at 4-5 in the third, Sharapova double faulted the first two points in a nervous display that led to an early exit.
“Yeah, obviously, you know, think of what — I mean, think of the things that you need to do in order to make the serve, whether you feel like you’re missing a lot of first serves or you have to hit a lot of second serves, but to hit more first serves in and things like that,” said Sharapova of trying to mentally deal with the double faults. “But, yeah.”
Softballer Monica Niculescu also orchestrated an upset, keeping No. 27 seed Lucie Safarova off balance in a 6-0, 6-1 win.
Young American women have been the story of week one of the US Open, but two crashed out on Friday when No. 22 Sabine Lisicki stomped Irina Falconi 6-0, 6-1, and No. 25 Maria Kirilenko eased past a tight Christine McHale 6-2, 6-3.
“I never really felt as comfortable as I wanted to feel,” McHale said. “It’s new for me, playing on such a big stage. I think it will help me, though, in the long run.”
Other winners of note included No. 2 seed Vera Zvonareva defeating No. 30 Anabel Medina Garrigues 6-4, 7-5, No. 9 Sam Stosur outlasting Nadia Petrova in three, and No. 13 Shuai Peng defeating No. 19 Julia Goerges.
“When I go into the tournament I always believe in myself, and my main goal is to win any tournament I’m at,” said Zvonareva on her tournament favorites. “The rest of the girls, I think they are very good players. You know, there is such tough competition right now.”
Zvonareva will next face Lisicki.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” Lisicki said. “I hope I can get a revenge. We played here last year and we played in San Diego, those two on hardcourts. It was really close in San Diego. There I was really tired, but I was playing well. I’m playing well now, as well. You know, we’ll see. I hope I can get a revenge this time.”
Matches to look for on Saturday include (1) Caroline Wozniacki vs. diminutive American veteran Vania King, (4) Victoria Azarenka vs. (28) Serena Williams, rising American Sloane Stephens vs. (16) Ana Ivanovic, (11) Jelena Jankovic vs. (17) Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, and (10) Andrea Petkovic vs. (18) Roberta Vinci.
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