By Ann Liguori
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Sara Errani, the No. 13 seed from Italy, and Venus Williams played what was the most exciting set of the US Open so far.
Errani eventually outlasted the former two-time champion by scrambling around the court, chasing down big ground strokes and coming up with volley winners in a third-set tiebreaker she ended up winning 7-5.
Regardless of how it started, this was Venus’ match to lose. Serving up 5-3 in the third, she made several unforced errors and eventually was broken. Later in the tiebreaker, Williams fought back from 2-5 down to tie things 5-all, but Errani found a way to close out the match and record her first win over Williams in four tries.
Venus is also playing doubles with sister Serena and they needed three sets to win their first-round match late Thursday. She looked sluggish from the start on Friday, dropping the first set without winning a game.
She started to move better in the second set and returned the favor, winning 6-0. Both players saved their best for last in the third, with Venus smacking inside-out forehand winners and Errani winning points off of her drop volley.
It was quite something to see Errani chase down many of Venus’ missile ground strokes.
After winning the match, Errani pumped her fist and had an outburst of emotion, pointing to the crowd as if to say, “don’t count me out.”
She advanced to the fourth round where she will face Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, the 121st-ranked player from Croatia. Baroni shocked No. 2 Simona Halep, 7-6 (6), 6-2, earlier in the day.
Angelique Kerber, the No. 6 seed, was upset by Belinda Bencic, a 17-year-old from Switzerland making her first appearance at the Open, 6-1, 7-5.
Venus and Serena were to play their second-round doubles match on Friday. With Venus diagnosed several years ago with Sjogren’s Syndrome, an auto-immune disease several years ago, she has adopted a vegan/raw foods diet which is supposed to help decrease inflammation in her body and reduce energy-sapping symptoms of the disease.
Venus has said that she is feeling much better this year, but there are still days when she doesn’t feel like getting out of bed.
It was obvious in that first set that she didn’t have it, but it good to see some of the Venus of old in the second set and most of the third.
Errani deserves a lot of credit for finding a way to get it done.
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