Sharapova crashes, Nadal, Murray into third round


Maria Sharapova’s US Open dream was shattered by Flavia Pennetta on Friday, while men’s number four Andy Murray avoided an early exit with a wild five-set victory over Robin Haase. Pennetta, a 29-year-old Italian ranked 25th in the world, stunned an out-of-sorts Sharapova 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 to reach the fourth round.
Pennetta, a two-time US Open quarter-finalist, took full advantage of the third-seeded Russian’s 60 unforced errors and 12 double-faults, holding her own after Sharapova’s second-set fight-back led to a tense third set and claiming what she called one of the biggest wins of her career.
“I think in the third set I was a little bit nervous when I started to think too much about closing the match, so I’m really proud of my game today,” said Pennetta, who will take on China’s Peng Shuai for a quarter-final spot. Murray appeared to be heading for a second-round departure after dropping the first two sets to Haase. He had turned things around when he suddenly had to fend off a last furious challenge in a fifth set he called “a bit of a blur” to win 6-7 (5/7), 2-6, 6-2, 6-0, 6-4. The Briton got untracked to take a lead in the third set, and the 24-year-old Haase, whose career has been slowed by two knee surgeries, faded amid repeated calls for medical treatment.
Haase appeared to be a spent force after dropping the fourth set to love and losing the first four games of the fifth. He roared back to knot the set at 4-4, then saved two match points — the second on a successful challenge — before Murray sealed the victory. Murray said he felt his “calmest” in the fifth set. “Even when he started coming back I wasn’t panicking, I wasn’t getting frustrated,” he said. “I just stayed focused and managed to turn it around. “I just stayed a little bit tougher than him and got the win.”
Second-seeded Rafael Nadal advanced with far less drama, moving on when France’s Nicolas Mahut called it quits with an abdominal strain while trailing 6-2, 6-2. Nadal, who had to battle to a three-set first-round win over Andrey Golubev, was sorry Mahut was hurt, but not sorry to be safely through along with Murray, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. “I prefer to be in the third round,” he said. “I spent a long time on court in the first round. For sure it’s not nice to win like this, but that’s sport sometimes.” Men’s 2009 champion Juan Martin del Potro continued to make up for lost time with a 6-2, 6-1, 7-5 victory over fellow Argentinian Diego Junqueira. A wrist injury kept del Potro from defending his title last year, but after building his ranking back up to 18 in the world he is relishing his return to Flushing Meadows. Meanwhile the women’s field faced a definite dearth of star power. Peng, the 13th seed, was the top-ranked player left in her quarter after a 6-4, 7-6 (7/1) victory over German Julia Goerges.
Kim Clijsters, winner of the past two US Opens and this year’s Australian Open title, missed the event because of injury. Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and Roland Garros winner Li Na failed to make it out of the first round. Two-time champion Venus Williams withdrew because of illness and eighth-seeded Marion Bartoli, a French Open semi-finalist this year, was upset in the second round. Second-seeded Russian Vera Zvonareva made it safely into the last 16, surviving some shaky moments to get past Spain’s Anabel Medina Garrigues 6-4, 7-5. However, she said she wasn’t surprised that despite her number two world ranking more attention has been paid here to Sharapova and three-time champion Serena Williams than to her and world number one Caroline Wozniacki.