Svitolina Stops Stephens, Lisicki, Venus Advance

Another hard fight, another big win for Venus Williams. The 2004 Volvo Car Open champion dug deep on Wednesday afternoon on Billie Jean King Stadium Court, beating Chanelle Scheepers 7-5, 7-5 to set up a made-for-TV third round match.

Williams will face on-the-rise 20-year-old Genie Bouchard Thursday at 1 pm in a match to be aired on ESPN2.

Williams, 33, fought from a set down in both the first and second sets.

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“She was playing so well, but the good thing is that when I get behind, I give even more effort and get even more focused,” said Venus, who lost in the semifinals here last year to sister Serena. “I’ve been playing well from behind lately, which is something you really have to be able to do to win big matches, because you’re not always going to be ahead.”

Sloane Stephens played from behind for much of Wednesday, as well, but wasn’t able to right her ship. Nineteen-year-old Elina Svitolina beat the No. 5 seed 6-4, 6-4 in the first match of the day.

2009 champion and No. 4 seed Sabine Lisicki survived a 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 challenge from American Vania King to advance to the third round. 

Lisicki will face fan favorite Andrea Petkovic in the third round after the German produced just the fifth double bagel of the year with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Lourdes Dominguez Lino.

Stephens, the No. 5 seed, made comebacks from 5-1 and 4-1 down in the first and second sets, respectively, but could never break through against the hard-hitting Ukrainian, the highest-ranked teenager on the WTA Tour.

Former Top 5 player Daniela Hantuchova continued her march through the draw, the No. 12 seed beating Grace Min, an American qualifier 6-2, 6-3 on Court 3. 2011 finalist Elena Vesnina, seeded 13th, needed three sets to advance past Petra Cetkovska 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.

American Madison Keys made two furious comeback attempts but couldn’t stop Peng Shuai, the No. 15 seed falling 6-1, 6-7 (3), 7-6 (4) in front of a supportive Althea Gibson Court crowd. 

No. 3 seed Sara Errani of Italy eased through her second-round match, winning the first set 6-3 against Kiki Bertens before her opponent retired. Errani has played just one set to get into the third round, where she’ll meet Peng.

Svitlona is considered one of the up-and-coming players on the WTA, having rising from No. 90 at this time a year ago to No. 35 this week. She made the fourth round in Miami last week and was a quaterfinalist in Paris earlier this year.

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“I was waiting for this win a long time,” Svitolina told reporters after her win. “I was playing the matches like against [Ana] Ivanovic, that was a close match for me, and against [Agnieszka] Radwanska, also was a tough match in Miami.  So yeah, of course, I’ve been working hard and believing in myself, so I was waiting for this win.”

Svitolina will next meet the winner of 17-year-old Belinda Bencic, another up-and-comer, and Marina Erakovic of New Zealand. Bencic beat Marina Erakovic convincingly on Court 3, 6-2, 6-1.

It was more disappointment for Stephens, the 21-year-old now having lost in her first match at the Volvo Car Open for two straight years.

“I didn’t play that bad, I didn’t think so, but obviously she played pretty well,” the world No. 18 said. “It’s just unfortunate that I lost, but I mean, you can just learn from the mistakes and things like that and build on it.” 

2007 champion Jelena Jankovic closed the day with a convincing 6-0, 6-3 victory over Lauren Davis, booking her spot in the third round.

Photo by Alice Keeney/FCC2014