Around the World at the U.S. Open

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Updated: August 30, 2013

The skies still threatened at Flushing Meadows, but it didn’t stop Serena Williams from bulldozing her way into the third round with a 6-3 6-0 victory that was only briefly suspenseful. Leading 5-3, Williams took a spill racing for a shot at the net. But before making an unceremonious landing on her rear end, she hit a winner. No damage done, she cruised the rest of the way.

Sara Errani felt no such calmness of purpose in her second round match against Flavia Pennetta. The fourth seed came out completely flat, sleepwalking through a 6-3 6-1 loss to a woman who had previously retired from her second round match in New Haven with an injury. But it wasn’t the loss that was the biggest story from the match. Errani was emotional and brutally honest in her post-match interview about her struggles to deal with the pressure that comes with a top-10 ranking. Jane McManus captured the pathos on ESPN.com:

Errani said her issues didn’t start at the US Open, but they certainly manifested against Pennetta, a fellow Italian. “I’m not that kind of player that can go there and make ace and winner, and if the ball is going in I’m doing good,” Errani said. “[My strength] is to go there and fight. If I feel that I’m not fighting good for too much pressure, for not feeling good with myself doing that thing. Because I don’t want to go on the court. I don’t want to go to play. I don’t want to play. I don’t want to stay there on the court. I feel very bad. So that is the problem for me.”

Meanwhile, Simon Briggs of the London Telegraph provides an update on the closest thing tennis has to Kim-Kanye—the ongoing relationship between Caroline Wozniacki and professional golfer Rory McIlroy. An Irish newspaper last weekend breathlessly quoted an unnamed source who reported that the two had split and that McIlroy was despondent. McIlroy’s presence in the crowd during Wozniacki’s first-round win over Ying-Ying Duan seemed to contradict that story.

“I’d love to know who this source is,” said McIlroy, in reference to the “source close to him” who had been named in the original story. “Seems to pop up in the papers all the time and is wrong 99.9% of the time!” Wozniacki responded with a tweet of her own: “Ha ha. That’s not a very good percentage”. She then posted a photo of herself at breakfast with a smartly dressed McIlroy. The presence of a second, shirtless man in the same picture sparked further debate, until it was revealed to be her brother, Patrik. Speculation about their romance is inevitable. Like other sporting couples before them, these charming young athletes find themselves judged by the results they post on their respective tours.

One of the feel-good stories of the early rounds came to an end in the second round when Haitian-American teenager Victoria Duval fell to Daniela Hantuchova 6-2 6-3. Duval had upset 2011 champion Samantha Stosur 5-7 6-4 6-4 in the first round, bringing worldwide attention to the inspiring story of her father’s escape from Haiti’s devastating earthquake and the family’s move to Miami. Johnette Howard of ESPN.com caught up with Duval right after the disappointing finish to the coming out party:

“It was overwhelming,” she said. “Beating Sam in the first round and feeling a little bit of expectations in the second round, that’s something I’m going to learn to adapt to. … I mean, I had goose bumps watching it in the locker room yesterday. That was a great achievement. Hopefully, I’ll have many more.”

The New York Times’ Nate Taylor reports that Duval played inspired tennis in front of her father against Stosur, but needs to get stronger to compete match in and match out.

She said she played the best match of her life in front of her father, Jean-Maurice Duval, who survived the devastating earthquake in Haiti two years ago. Duval’s family was in the stands to watch her again Thursday, but unlike Stosur, Hantuchova attacked Duval’s serve, perhaps the weakest aspect of her game. When Duval fell behind in the first set, she dropped her head, and the last four games. “I don’t think I ever felt free in the match today,” Duval said. “I don’t think it had to do with the score or anything. She hits really hard. I couldn’t quite get myself going.”

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