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Tennis - 26. March 2012.

Venus digs deep to reach the fourth round in Miami

report by Sony Ericsson

Venus Williams was forced to save a match point against Canadian wildcard Aleksandra Wozniak before setting up a fourth-round meeting with reigning Ana Ivanovic. After a tension-filled two hours and 53 minutes, Williams gutted out a 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(5) win against Wozniak, who earlier held one match point at 5-4 in the third set.

Williams, one of three multiple title winners remaining in the field along with Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka, will play No. 15 Ana Ivanovic, who defeated No. 20 Daniela Hantuchova 6-2, 7-6 (2).

Williams turned in her third straight win here advancing as a No. 134 ranked wild card.  She’s already knocked off No. 3 Czech Petra Kvitova (6-4, 4-6, 6-0) and Kimiko Date-Krumm of Japan (6-0, 6-3).

The 31-year-old had dropped sharply in the rankings after having to withdraw from two prior events in 2012 (Auckland and the Australian Open) with an autoimmune disease called Sjogren’s syndrome.

Williams lived dangerously throughout the match.  She erased match point, made 70 unforced errors and only hit in 58 percent of her first serves.  With Williams on the brink of being defeated, she rallied to save break point five times during the final set.

“I tried not to let anything discourage me today,” said Williams, who is one of three wildcards still remaining in the draw (Britain’s Heather Watson and Spain’s Garbine Muguruza Blano). “I kept thinking about how I really need this match and I need these points.  I keep thinking about the Olympics and I need my points.”

Williams, who is projected to rise back into the top 120, also discussed how fighting on the court can be such an emotional strain.

“You have to be ready emotionally,” she said. "I think about how miserable I'm gonna feel when I have a loss and I still spend that same time having a win, so I just keep try to digging deeper. In the scheme of things, if I have to spend three hours out of 24 in the day, then I'm gonna spend the three hours and try to win. It might not work every time, but I just gotta do what I gotta do.”

Williams has not lost in the third round here since 2007 (l. Sharapova).  The only other time she lost in the third round came in her debut as a wildcard in 1997 (l. top seed Hingis).
Wozniak, ranked No.65, was in the third round for the first time in five appearances for this tournament.  Her previous best had been reaching the second round on three successive years from 2008 to 2010.

As for Ivanovic, the 24-year-old Serbian will be seeking her first quarterfinals appearance since her debut here in 2005 (l. top seed Mauresmo).

Ivanovic won on 19 of 31 second serve return points and was able to convert on four break point chances out of 12.

Her current ranking of No. 16 is her highest since the week of October 19, 2009 (No. 14) and she is now 4-4 against top 20 players so far this season.

“It was a very tough match for me, Ivanovic said. “I knew from the beginning that it will be, you know, very tough third round I think for both of us.  We played a lot of times in the past.  We always have tough matches.  Even in practice, it's always, you know, tight.  So I really tried to stay calm and work and concentrate on what I was doing out there.  I played really well in the first set.”

Hantuchova continued to show her shares of struggles in Miami.  Of her 13 main draw appearances, the Slovak has won back-to-back matches just once (2010) and has lost in the third round on five occasions. 
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