Canada's Eugenie Bouchard bounced from U.S. Open
Drops 2nd-round match to No. 8 Kerber
Canadian Eugenie Bouchard was eliminated from the U.S. Open on Thursday afternoon, losing her second-round match in three sets to No. 8 seed Angelique Kerber of Germany.
Bouchard, ranked 59th in the world, fell 6-4, 2-6, 6-3, but not before the Montreal teen staved off four match points to make things interesting in the final game, drawing cheers from the New York City crowd for her winners.
Bouchard was unable to match her third-round showing from Wimbledon as she broke Kerber's serve six times on 14 chances but lost her own serve on seven occasions and committed seven double-faults.
"It's always disappointing to lose, I'm a bit down about that," Bouchard said . "I felt I played well, I tried to be aggressive. But she's a good counter-puncher, every time I came to the net she passed me.
"My first serve was nowhere as good as it can be, but I made up for some of it with my second serve. But I need to work on my fitness as well as my mental strength. This match showed that I'm close, I was dictating and competing. But I need to get a bit more consistent."
Kerber, who has spent the last year in the top 10, says she embraces the expectations that come with her No. 8 ranking.
"Of course I feel the pressure, but right now I'm not thinking about this," she said. "I just try to give my best and play my tennis and feel good."
The only Canadian to make it through to the third round of singles was Milos Raonic of Thornhill, Ont., who cruised past Spain's Pablo Andujar 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 on the men's side.
Aleksandra Wozniak of Blainville, Que., played in only her second match since March after last autumn's shoulder injury, and faced a huge task against double Grand Slam champion Victoria Azarenka. Wozniak lost 6-3, 6-1 to the No. 2 Azarenka.
"She's a Grand Slam winner and I've not played much tennis," Wozniak said. "This was only my third match and 10 and a half months."
Wozniak said her shoulder is better but it will take time to return to form.
"The shoulder is now 100 per cent," she said. "But I need more match play to get back my game and my rhythm.
"I tried to play like I used to, fast and aggressive. But I need to work on my anticipation, judging the ball. I waited too long today and made errors. But I did return well, I just need to work on the serve."
Wozniak is working to get her match feel back after almost a year of injury hell. She is playing the Open with a protected ranking as she works her way back on the WTA and plans a return to her home event in Quebec City where she suffered her injury.
Only a few spots separate them in the seedings. Still, the considerable gulf between No. 1 Serena Williams and No. 4 Sara Errani was hard to ignore in their back-to-back matches Thursday at the U.S. Open.
Williams, seeking her 17th Grand Slam title and second straight at Flushing Meadows, brushed off an ungainly slide onto her backside en route to a typically easy second-round victory, 6-3, 6-0 over Galina Voskoboeva in half-full Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Barely worth talking about by Williams' standards: "I'll have to think about it and see what I can do better, but it was OK," she said.
Only an hour before on the same court, a much different scene: Errani imploded in a 6-3, 6-1 loss to her Italian teammate, 83rd-ranked Flavia Pennetta. Then, with tears welling in her eyes, Errani conceded that she's struggling to handle her high ranking and the high expectations that have come with that.
"My problem isn't that I lost. I've lost a million times in my life," Errani said. "My problem is trying to find the desire to fight and be on the court ready to fight. For a few weeks, I haven't felt like I wanted to be on the court. That's the problem."
That concession was the most unexpected development on Day 4 of the U.S. Open, where the tournament got back on track after a rainy Wednesday that postponed eight women's matches and shuffled the lineups.
Sixth-seeded Caroline Wozniacki beat Chanelle Scheepers 6-1, 6-2 to open the night session.
Williams was pushed only briefly against Voskoboeva, ranked 77th from Kazakhstan.
Serving at game point trailing 5-3, Voskoboeva drew Williams to the net, and as Williams reached for the ball, her feet slid out from under her and she fell hard onto her backside, her racket slamming to the ground. Before she fell, however, she reached the shot to win the point. Two points later, she closed out the set.
'Destroyed by pressure'
The second set took all of 27 minutes. When it was over, Williams was sitting at the same table where Errani had cried earlier, being asked how she would advise the Italian, who said she was "destroyed by the pressure" of returning to the French Open this year, where she followed her 2012 appearance in the final with a run to the semifinals.
"I really wouldn't know what to say," Williams said. "I can only say that I think she's doing a good job. I mean, sometimes you have a tough day at the office, and it doesn't mean that you don't handle the pressure well."
But Errani said she didn't.
She is 5-foot-4 1/2 with energy to spare, but with loopy, unthreatening groundstrokes and a serve that maxes out at around 85 mph. It has been, even by her account, heart and grit that helped her get to the 2012 French Open final, then follow that with a trip to the U.S. Open semifinal, where she lost 6-1, 6-2 to Williams.
Those results, plus a tournament win and three second-place finishes on tour this year, made her the highest-seeded Italian woman ever in a major for this trip to Flushing Meadows.
But after a 6-0, 6-0 victory over a 152nd-ranked "lucky loser" in the opening round, Errani previewed what was to come, saying then that her tension was "through the roof" knowing that "everyone expects me to win 6-0, 6-0, or thinks that I can only lose against three other women in this tournament."
Then, after the loss to Pennetta, Errani tearfully acknowledged she couldn't handle the strain.
"For a couple of weeks now, I haven't been well," she said. "There's too much pressure."
It didn't help, of course, that she was playing an opponent with nothing to lose, the way many players react when they face someone in the top-5. Last year, Pennetta missed the U.S. Open and the entire end of the season while she recovered from surgery on her bad right wrist.
Going against a player she's familiar with, Pennetta went for it and hit 33 winners to only 12 for Errani. Pennetta broke serve in the very first game and never looked back.
"I tried to play aggressive from the very beginning and I was perfect today, I think," Pennetta said.
As for her friend's woes — well, Pennetta certainly didn't see them through the same lens as Errani.
"It's nothing tragic for her," Pennetta said. "One match is one match."
With files from The Canadian Press & The Associated Press