STANFORD, Calif.- Two days after laboring to a taxing three-set opening round victory against a qualifier, Serena Williams coasted to a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Patty Schnyder on Friday afternoon in a result that was as quick as it was dominating.
Looking every bit like the tournament’s top seed and the No. 5-ranked player in the world, Williams finished off Schnyder in just 54 minutes to punch her ticket to Saturday’s semifinal round of the 2008 Bank of the West Classic in front of 2370 fans at Taube Family Tennis Stadium.
“It was definitely quick,” said Williams. “With a player like Patty, you have to be quicker because she is such a big shot-maker you never know what is going to happen.”
An eight-time Grand Slam champion, Williams tallied just four aces on the day after firing off 14 on Wednesday in a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory over qualifier Michelle Larcher de Brito. Making her first appearance since falling to big sister Venus just weeks ago at Wimbledon, Williams is gunning for her first career Bank of the West Classic singles championship.
And the tournament hardware is officially up for grabs, as defending champion and second-seeded Anna Chakvetadze was ousted 6-3, 6-4 by sixth-seeded Marion Bartoli in the evening session. Bartoli, who was pushed to three sets by qualifier Anne Keothavong in her last match, comfortably defeated Chakvetadze as the Russian made 38 unforced errors.
Out of the four remaining singles participants, Bartoli and Williams are the only seeded players remaining in the draw.
Their challengers appear in the form of surprise qualifier Aleksandra Wozniak, who has won six matches in seven days, and tour veteran Ai Sugiyama, who had not advanced past the second round in her last seven Bank of the West Classic outings.
Wozniak continued her amazing run with a 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 victory over fellow qualifier Samantha Stosur. In a scheduling quirk, it marked the second time during the tournament that Wozniak defeated Stosur as she also notched a 6-4, 6-2 triumph when the two met up in the qualifying round.
“It was my sixth match in a row and I felt pretty tired after the first set,” said Wozniak. “My serve let me down in the second and third but somehow I kept fighting through each point and trying to get to the balls even though my legs were tired. But at the end I think you have to stay tougher mentally than your opponent.”
Next up for Wozniak: a semifinal matchup with Williams on Saturday afternoon.
Sugiyama advanced when Dominika Cibulkova retired on match point, picking up a 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5), 5-3 victory in the process. One day after breezing past fourth-seeded Daniela Hantuchova 6-3, 6-1, Sugiyama had to work a little harder against the upstart Cibulkova.
“I wasn’t really feeling heavy and was moving quite well from the beginning of the match,” said Sugiyama. “Even at the end, I felt pretty fresh and kept eating my energy bar throughout the match. We were similar types and whoever could run and get back to the ball more was going to win. We had a really good match today.”
For more information, or to purchase tickets, call the box office at 866-WTA-TIXS ( 866-982-8497 ) or log on to www.BankoftheWestClassic.com.
The Bank of the West Classic, a Sony Ericsson WTA Tour event, will be played July 14-20 at the Taube Family Tennis Stadium at Stanford University and features a 28-player singles draw as well as a 16-team doubles draw. The event is owned and operated by IMG and serves as the opening women’s event of the Olympus US Open Series.
ABOUT THE BANK OF THE WEST CLASSIC: The Bank of the West Classic is the longest-running women-only professional tennis tournament in the world and is the first stop of the US Open Series. A Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Tier II event, the Bank of the West Classic features a 28-player singles draw and a 16-team doubles draw with total prize money of $600,000. Held on Stanford University’s campus at the Taube Family Tennis Stadium since 1997, former champions include: Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Andrea Jaeger, Monica Seles, Martina Hingis, Lindsay Davenport and Venus Williams. The Bank of the West Classic is owned and operated by IMG.
ABOUT BANK OF THE WEST: Founded in 1874 and headquartered in San Francisco, $62 billion-asset Bank of the West is the second-largest commercial bank based in California. Bank of the West offers a full range of business, trust, international and personal banking services. The bank currently operates more than 700 commercial and retail banking locations in 19 Western and Midwestern states. In 2008, Bank of the West ranked “Highest in Customer Satisfaction among Retail Banks in the West” by J.D. Power and Associates. Bank of the West's holding company, BancWest Corporation, is owned by BNP Paribas, a leading global financial services institution ranked by Standard & Poor's as one of the world's four strongest banks. More information is available at www.bankofthewest.com.
MAIN DRAW SINGLES AGATE (7/18/08)
Singles – Quarterfinals
Ai Sugiyama (JPN) d. Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5), 5-3 (retired)
Serena Williams (USA) d. Patty Schnyder (SUI) 6-3, 6-1
Aleksandra Wozniak (CAN) d. Samantha Stosur (AUS) 6-2, 7-5, 4-6
Marion Bartoli (FRA) d. Anna Chakvetadze (RUS) 6-3, 6-4
MAIN DRAW DOUBLES AGATE (7/18/08)
Doubles – Quarterfinal
Elena Vesnina (RUS)/Vera Zvonareva (RUS) v. Akgul Amanmuradova (UZB)/Kateryna Bondarenko (UKR)
photo Getty Images
photo Getty Images