Family Circle Cup: Rising star downs former champ

  • Friday, April 4, 2014

Eugenie Bouchard defeated Venus Williams in three sets Thursday to advance into the Family Circle Cup quarterfinals. FRANKIE MANSFIELD

After two days of comeback rallies, Venus Williams' magic dried up Thursday in a third-round loss to Eugenie Bouchard at the Family Circle Cup on Daniel Island.

No. 6 seed Bouchard ousted No. 11 seeded Williams, 7-6 (6), 2-6, 6-4, to advance into the quarterfinals for the second consecutive year.

Williams pulled out wins after playing from behind in both of the first two rounds. The 33-year-old says her focus and energy raises when she's down in the match and for a while Thursday that seemed to be proving true again.

After falling in a tight 7-6 (6) opening set, Williams charged back with her best tennis of the day in a 6-2 win in the second set. Down 1-2 to start the second, the 2004 Family Circle Cup champion powered through the next six games, overwhelming Bouchard at times with her powerful serves and aggressive returns.

Williams' strong play carried over into the third set as she broke serve and took a 2-1 lead. Bouchard countered with wins in the next two games. Williams followed with a perfect eighth game to tie the set, 4-4, but Bouchard regained the advantage with a win in the ninth.

“Just a lot of ups and downs, a lot of errors,” Williams said. “I just wanted to make the points shorter a lot of the times and made some bad choices.”

With the match on the line, Bouchard stayed sharp. Leading 5-4, she broke Williams' serve and then returned her drop shot away from Williams into the open court to take the match.

Bouchard's win continues to solidify the 20-year-old's position as one of the game's rising stars. In less than a year, she's climbed from outside the top-100 rankings to No. 20 in the world. In September, she lost to Williams in three sets in Tokyo. Bouchard says aggressiveness made the difference between winning and losing Thursday.

“In the second set, I was really a bit too passive,” Bouchard said. “The third (set) I focused on really sticking to the baseline and I think that made a difference.

“I wasn't mentally going for it enough. In the third, I decided to take it to her a little bit more ... just keep fighting, keep fighting and it paid off.”

Bouchard advances to face Jelena Jankovic Thursday at 1 p.m. Ranked No. 8 in the world, Jankovic is the tournament's highest-ranked player remaining.

Former champions fall

Williams was the first of three former champions eliminated Thursday.

No. 4 seed and 2009 champion Sabine Lisicki fell, 6-1, 6-0, to Andrea Petkovic, while 2010 champion Samantha Stosur lost, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 to Lucie Safarova.

No. 2 seed Jankovic is the only former champion remaining after defeating Ajla Tomljanovic, 7-5, 6-1, Thursday. Tied 5-5 in the first set, Jankovic went on to win eight of the next nine games to take the match.

Also among those advancing Thursday was Jana Cepelova, who defeated Serena Williams in the second round, and Daniela Hantuchova, who defeated Shelby Rogers in the first round. Cepelova and Hantuchova will meet Friday at 7 p.m.

Frankie Mansfield, the sports reporter for the Moultrie News can be seen all around the state following teams to meets, games, and matches. For score updates, breaking sports news, and more follow @fjmansfield on Twitter and like Moultrie News Sports on Facebook.

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