No. 6 seed Serena Williams needed almost 2-1/2 hours to move into the round of 16 on Saturday at Wimbledon, coming from a set down to defeat No. 25 seed Jie Zheng 6-7(5), 6-2, 9-7.
“I definitely had to dig pretty deep,” Williams said. “She was playing really well, and I had to go out there and do what I could. I hit so many errors off the returns. I was just off. Usually I’m returning really, really well. And I think she played an unbelievable match today. But I think I can play better.”
Williams served to stay in the match in the third three times at 4-5, 5-6 and 6-7.
“I really wanted to win this match, because this was my third time against her at Wimbledon on Centre Court,” Zheng said. “It was a long, tough match. She has a big serve — it’s difficult to play against her on a grasscourt. But I played well, and I had some chances in the final set. At 7-all I didn’t have such a good service game. But it was still a great match for me. After we finished the match, she just told me, ‘You are crazy. You are crazy. This was an unbelievable match.’ I really hope she can win this year.”
The other Top 10 seeds in action faced less drama as No. 2 Victoria Azarenka dispatched of Slovak qualifier Jana Cepelova 6-3, 6-3, and No. 4 seed and defending champ Petra Kvitova dismissed American Varvara Lepchenko 6-1, 6-0.
“When I came here I wasn’t really confident to play on grass, because I lost my first match in Eastbourne and played so bad,” Kvitova said. “But every round I’ve played it gets better. I like playing on grass, here especially. I’m just focusing on my game and it’s nice to know I’ve done well before at Wimbledon too.”
The only upset on the day was an odd one as Kazakh wildcard Yaroslava Shvedova upended No. 10 Sara Errani 6-0, 6-4, posting a “golden set” in the first set, not losing a single point.
“I only realized after the match in the gym when my coach told me,” Shvedova said. “I didn’t believe him — I thought it must be a mistake. I wasn’t concentrating on the statistics during the match, I was just playing point by point. I was just thinking that I played a good set. I’m the first woman to make a golden egg!”
The other Italians fared better as No. 21 Roberta Vinci won a tight one over Croatian qualifier Mirjana Lucic 7-6(4), 7-6(3), and No. 24 Francesca Schiavone eased past Czech Klara Zakopalova 6-0, 6-4.
Other victors on the day were No. 14 Ana Ivanovic, winning the beauty contest over No. 22 Julia Goerges in three sets, and Austrian firebrand Tamira Paszek, who beat fellow un-seed Yanina Wickmayer in three.
On tap for Monday when all the remaining women will be in play are (2) Victoria Azarenka vs. (14) Ana Ivanovic, (1) Maria Sharapova vs. (15) Sabine Lisicki, (6) Serena Williams vs. Yaroslava Shvedova, (3) Agnieszka Radwanska vs. (Q) Camila Giorgi, (4) Petra Kvitova vs. (24) Francesca Schiavone, Kim Clijsters vs. (8) Angelique Kerber, Tamira Paszek vs. (21) Roberta Vinci, and (17) Maria Kirilenko vs. (30) Shuai Peng.
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