After a patchy opener on Wednesday, Serena Williams had no trouble Thursday hammering Karin Knapp 6-0, 6-2 in the third round at the Cincinnati Masters.
“More than anything I was just trying to stay positive and trying to have fun,” Serena said. “I did so well here last year, so I just really want to stay in the tournament.”
The world No. 1 and defending champion won her 45th match of the season, and it set her up with a Friday quarterfinal date against Ana Ivanovic in a rematch of their 2014 final. Ivanovic came from a set down to turn away Sloane Stephens 2-6, 6-4, 6-1.
“There aren’t many secrets there,” Ivanovic said. “She’s been playing really well. I watched some of her matches in Toronto, and I spoke to Petko after she played her. She just said she has such a big game.
“For me at the moment it’s about recovery, and then I’ll try to do my things tomorrow. It will be very important to play well and to put pressure on her and try to challenge myself and see where I’m at.”
Top threats Belinda Bencic withdrew with a minor right arm injury after she dropped the first set to Lucie Safarova. The 18-year-old Swiss has been quite a story winning Toronto and then two more matches this week upping her win streak to 8.
“First of all, I don’t think it’s very serious – I just wasn’t 100% today, and to beat Lucie or even compete against her, you need to be 100%,” said Bencic. “I’m really sorry I had to retire. It was like the first time ever I’ve retired from a match, so it didn’t feel very good. I just hope it will get better and I’m sure I will be fit very soon – now I need to talk with the team and decide what to do.”
Safarova will meet Caroline Garcia in the quarterfinals.
In the bottom half, just one seed remains and that’s Simona Halep to came back to beat Andrea Petkovic 4-6, 6-4, 6-2. The Romanian will face Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova who advanced when 2013 champ Victoria Azarenka retired due to a leg leading by a set.
And 2009 winner Jelena Jankovic takes on rising youngster Anna Karolina Schmiedlova.
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