Tight Encounters Rule the Day as Field is Narrowed to Eight

On Thursday, Venus Williams just didn’t have any answers for the questions being posed to her.

MORE: Draws | Schedule | Preview: Friday is Quarterfinal Day

The 2004 champion and former world No. 1 battled for exactly three hours, coming up short in the end against the feisty Yulia Putintseva, 7-6(5), 2-6, 6-4.

“I tried and she always seemed to have an answer,” Williams said of Putintseva. “A lot of her shots were just too tough. So, what can you do?”

Venus did all she could, as did another former champion in Sam Stosur, who came up against an in-form

No. 5 seed Sara Errani. The Italian, known for her clay-court prowess, won 6-4, 7-6(5). Errani, a 2012 French Open finalist, is into her third straight quarterfinal here. “Sam is always a tough opponent,” Errani said on court. “It is for sure a good win for me.”

Sloane Stephens defeated Daria Gavrilova in what was a dangerous match-up for the American. She beat the rising Australian star in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3. Another Daria – Russian No. 14 seed – Kasatkina had better fortunes, as she beat American wild card Louisa Chirico on Althea Gibson Club Court, 6-0, 6-4. “Dasha,” as Kasatkina is known, is into the quarterfinals here in her debut appearance.

Top seed and defending champion Angelique Kerber made short work of Kristina Kucova to open the day, winning 6-2, 6-3. Kerber looked much more like her Australian Open-winning self, following a three-set scare in her opening match. She said on Thursday she’s feeling more settled on the clay surface.

German Laura Siegemund, who defeated Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, and Elena Vesnina, who beat Lourdes Dominguez Lino, also won in straight sets. Vesnina is a 2011 finalist in singles.

Irina-Camelia Begu earned the right to play Kerber in the quarterfinals, denying Monica Puig a match point in a 1-6, 6-2, 7-6(4) victory. Begu and Kerber played at this very same stage a year ago in Charleston.

In doubles, No. 3 seeds Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic advanced to the quarterfinals, as did the unseeded duo of Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Siegemund.

American Bethanie Mattek-Sands is also still alive in doubles, the top seed with partner Lucie Safarova.

They play their quarterfinal on Friday, the first match on stadium court. Americans Raqueal Atawo and Abigail Spears are also in action.

Will Kerber retain her singles crown or will a new champion emerge? Friday we move another step closer to finding out the answer to that question.