NEW YORK – Sara Errani wagged her finger and cupped her hand to her ear for the U.S. Open fans who tried to will Venus Williams to victory.
“I think I will remember forever that moment,” Errani said.
Two points from defeat, the diminutive Italian rallied to force a third-set tiebreaker and outlasted Williams in a match that was both lopsided and tight.
Errani won 6-0, 0-6, 7-6 (5) in the third round Friday after Williams had a chance to serve out the match in the final set.
Williams twice came back from down a break in the third but was done in by too many unforced errors – she made 52 in all. Trying to close out the match at 5-3, the 19th-seeded Williams had one of her eight double-faults.
The 13th-seeded Errani next faces qualifier Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, who stunned second-ranked Simona Halep 7-6 (6), 6-2. The 32-year-old Lucic-Baroni hadn’t made a Grand Slam round of 16 since 1999, waylaid by injuries and financial struggles.
“I feel like a little kid, like this is the first time ever happening,” Lucic-Baroni said.
Federer rules the night
Roger Federer produced one particularly brilliant backhand lob that he celebrated by wagging a finger overhead during a straight-set second-round victory at the U.S. Open.
The second-seeded Federer beat 104th-ranked Sam Groth of Australia 6-4, 6-4, 6-4, improving to 24-1 for his career in night matches held in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Federer is also 54-1 in second-round Grand Slam matches; the only loss came at Wimbledon last year.
11th-seeded Gulbis out
Ernests Gulbis became the first man seeded in the top 20 at this year’s U.S. Open to lose, blowing a two-set lead in the second round against his pal and frequent practice partner, 45th-ranked Dominic Thiem of Austria.
Thiem won 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 in a match between players who share a coach, Gunter Bresnik.
This was the first match of Thiem’s career that went five sets. At 20, he is the youngest player ranked in the top 50.
He’ll now be making his debut in the third round of a Grand Slam tournament, facing 19th-seeded Feliciano Lopez of Spain next.
Peng does it again
Peng Shuai beat another seeded player at the U.S. Open to reach her second straight Grand Slam round of 16.
Two days after upsetting fourth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska, Peng defeated 28th-seeded Roberta Vinci 6-4, 6-3 on Friday. The Chinese veteran had gone two years without making it past the second round at a major tournament before her Wimbledon run this summer. But she didn’t meet any seeded players in the first three rounds there before losing to eventual champion Petra Kvitova in straight sets.