US teenager Duval upsets Stosur
Her brothers played tennis. Victoria Duval was more into ballet.
But while tagging along to watch them at a tournament, the director said she’d be better off playing than sitting there watching in her mom’s lap.
”It was a 10-and-under tournament, I think, and I won it,” Duval said. ”I had no idea where to stand on the court or anything. After that, my mom said, `OK, you have to choose now.’ Tennis seemed to be appropriate.”
That’s the short version of how the 17-year-old with the squeaky voice found herself at the US Open, decked out in a pink dress, blue tennis shorts and square, white-rimmed glasses, knocking off one of the tournament’s past champions Tuesday night.
She celebrated her 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 upset of 11th-seeded Sam Stosur with two huge leaps in the center of Armstrong Stadium that were accompanied by an even bigger smile. Her family turned their corner of the stands into a little mosh pit, sharing hugs and high-fives as they watched Victoria break through. With the win, she placed herself in the ever-growing line of great American tennis hopes.
”We’re, obviously, trying to make American tennis become what it used to be,” Duval said. ”We’re all working toward the same goal. We’re all a tight-knit group. Helping each other is important. I think we’re on an amazing path.”
Tuesday at the US Open was a good day for Americans on both the men’s and women’s side.
Sparked by wins from John Isner and Sam Querrey, the American men went 5-2 — setting aside, at least for a day, all the recent headlines about the demise of the men’s sport in the United States.
Meanwhile, Duval, ranked 296th, joined Sloane Stephens, Christina McHale, both Williams sisters and four other US players in the second round of the women’s draw.
Duval, the youngest of the bunch, is a self-described goofball who claims Gary the Snail as her favorite character on SpongeBob SquarePants — ”Gary doesn’t get enough credit,” she insists — and explains she just went through the latest in a series of growth spurts that now has her standing at 5-foot-10.
She received a wild-card entry into this tournament last year and was dispatched quickly in Arthur Ashe Stadium by another former champion, Kim Clijsters.
This time, she took the hard route, moving into the main draw through qualifying. Her reward — a match against the Aussie, Stosur, who won this tournament only two years ago.
Stosur said she felt like she gave the match away, and the stats back that up. She committed 56 unforced errors while blowing a one-set lead, then a 4-2 advantage in the second.
Duval didn’t argue with that.
”Obviously it’s a great feeling to beat a past champion. And Sam is amazing,” Duval said. ”Although she didn’t play nearly her best today, I played amazing, so I’ll take it.”
Her smiling, ebullience gives no hint of what she went through during her tumultuous childhood.
Duval was born in Florida, but grew up in her parents’ homeland of Haiti where, as a young child, she and some cousins were taken hostage by robbers.
”It’s not a good memory, so I’ve tried to forget as much as I could about it,” she said. ”I don’t remember too much of it anymore, which is great.”
In 2010, when a massive earthquake struck the island country, her father, a doctor, was buried in rubble for nearly 12 hours. His legs were broken but he survived and got off the island thanks to an American friend who was able to get a helicopter to bail him out.
All of this makes tennis seem not so important.
”There’s a lot to be thankful for,” she said during her on-court interview after the win. ”I don’t take anything for granted. You never know what can happen any day. My dad’s fortunate to be here. . . . I thank God every day for everything that’s happened. Life is short.”
Second-seeded Victoria Azarenka put together a 6-0, 6-0 victory over 99th-ranked Dinah Pfizenmaier of Germany.
Fourth-seeded Sara Errani posted a "double bagel" victory, routing "lucky loser" Olivia Rogowska 6-0, 6-0 to advance to the second round.
Errani, the 2012 French Open runner-up and a semifinalist at Flushing Meadows last year, needed 51 minutes in Armstrong Stadium to dispatch her 151st-ranked opponent, who lost in qualifying but made it into the main draw when Ayumi Morita withdrew with an injury.
Errani won 54 points to 23 for Rogowska.
Petra Kvitova likes the calm of Wimbledon, where she won her only Grand Slam title in 2011.
The bustle of New York, not so much. And the city’s major tournament has always bedeviled her.
The seventh-seeded Czech weathered another tough US Open match in the first round Tuesday, needing three sets and nearly two hours to beat 92nd-ranked Misaki Doi.
Kvitova won 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 on a windy day at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
"I like big matches on the big stadium, but the people — it’s too much crowds for myself, I think," she said.
Kvitova has reached at least the semifinals at the other three major events. She has never made it past the fourth round at Flushing Meadows.
She’s also struggled in the North American swing leading up to the US Open, but she made a breakthrough last year. Kvitova won two of those tournaments and reached the semifinals at another in 2012, then matched her longest run at the year’s last Grand Slam tournament.
"So I have good motivation to improve my results here," she said.
The final set Tuesday was closer than the score in this rare matchup of two lefties. After Kvitova went up a break at 2-0, Doi had a chance to break right back but couldn’t convert.
Two years ago, Kvitova became the first reigning Wimbledon women’s champion to lose her first US Open match in the same season. She was in danger of another early exit Tuesday when she made 15 unforced errors in the second set.
But she’s hardly fazed by three-set matches. Kvitova recently played six straight across three tournaments, winning four of them.
Doi, from Japan, fell to 0-4 against top 10 opponents.
Sixth-seeded Caroline Wozniacki held off qualifier Duan Ying-Ying to win her first-round match.
With boyfriend Rory McIlroy in the stands, Wozniacki fought off a set point in the second to win 6-2, 7-5.
The 133rd-ranked Duan had a chance to serve out the set at 5-3 in her Grand Slam debut. But the 2009 US Open finalist broke back. Then Duan had a set point on Wozniacki’s serve that she couldn’t convert.
Wozniacki broke serve in the next game, then staved off three break points to clinch the win.
No. 10-seeded Roberta Vinci, a quarterfinalist at Flushing Meadows last year, beat Timea Babos 6-4, 6-2. She’s reached a career-high ranking this summer at age 30 after making the round of 16 at the French Open and Wimbledon.
No. 13-seeded Ana Ivanovic and 14th-seeded Maria Kirilenko got off to quick starts, each winning in under an hour. Ivanovic, the 2008 French Open champ, beat Anna Tatishvili 6-2, 6-0. Kirilenko won 6-1, 6-1 against Yanina Wickmayer, a semifinalist at Flushing Meadows four years ago whose ranking has fallen to 57th.
Christina McHale, a 21-year-old from Englewood Cliffs, N.J., snapped a five-match losing streak by beating 45th-ranked Julia Goerges 6-4, 6-3. McHale’s ranking had fallen to 114th.