Thursday, June 16, 2011
American Venus Williams agonizes as match against Slovakian Daniela Hantuchova slips away
Williams, who had missed four and a half months of action due to hip and abdominal injuries, came back strong, beating No.11-ranked Andrea Petkovic in her first match back and No.18-ranked Ana Ivanovic in her second. But the No.25-ranked Hantuchova was in too much of a groove, winning 12 of her last 15 matches. Just a day before, she upset French Open champion Li Na, too.
"Obviously this is a great win and it's nice to be able to continue my good form from Paris and Birmingham," Hantuchova commented after the match.
More impressive: Hantuchova beat Williams for the first time in 11 tries.
"I was not thinking about our other matches at all. I was just focusing on my game today," she added. "I had a good win yesterday and I wanted to build on that. But I still feel there is a lot of room to improve. I'm not where I want to be yet, but I feel like I'm on the right way, which is pretty exciting for me."
"The wind didn't make it very predictable, but I give her credit for hanging in there. On a day like today, you have to just hang in there," Williams said. "I think Daniela had a lot of motivation - we've been playing I don't know how many years, and I am sure she has wanted a win against me for a long, long time."
Williams showed some flashes of the fighting spirit that has taken her to seven Grand Slam titles and the No.1 ranking, one minute facing a point for a 62 52 deficit and the next minute tucking the second set away. But the final chapter of the match was all Hantuchova - from 2-all in the third, she won 16 of 21 points.
"It wasn't the best luck today, but I feel good about my preparation," Williams said. "More than anything I was able to get a lot of great competition. This has been ideal. I would have liked to win here, but there are positives here too."
Hantuchova commented on the return of both Williams sisters to the WTA: "It's nice to see them back. I think they're great for the game. I was really looking forward to the match today and really pleased I was able to make it through."
Photos by Getty Images