Sara Errani doesn’t mind running around a tennis court all day. She also doesn’t mind playing the spoiler role – for the second consecutive match in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The No. 13 seed made a return to the US Open quarterfinals with a 6-3, 2-6, 6-0 win over 32-year-old Mirjana Lucic-Baroni on Sunday just two days after she had beaten another 30-something by the name of Venus Williams on the same court.
The loss of Williams from the tournament was an obvious point of “Aw, too bad” for American tennis fans, but the Lucic-Baroni exit summoned a similar response as the former teen prodigy made the second week of a major for the first time since 1999, coming through qualifying and shocking world No. 2 Simona Halep of Romania in the third round.
It was a contrast of styles from the start, with the big-hitting Lucic-Baroni trying to produce her patented go-for-broke tennis against the loopy, spin-laden game of the Italian, a semifinalist here in 2012.
Errani, 27, captured the first set in 33 minutes, but it was a nearly five-minute medical timeout between sets that seemed to right the ship for Lucic-Baroni. After playing the next game with the tape on her right knee, she promptly removed the tape and suddenly was playing her best, blasting winners from both sides of the court to grab the middle set.
In the final set, Lucic-Baroni’s tennis abandoned her as fast as she had found it, Errani running – literally – into the quarterfinals when the Croatian blasted an eye-popping 69th unforced error for the match, at the one-hour 36-minute mark.
“I like to run. I love running,” Errani said on court after the win. “I try to be consistent to run and be in every point. I want to fight. The other [players] have bigger strokes than me, but I try to stay in the match that way.”
Lucic-Baroni had 46 winners to go along with her unforced error stat, but the cleaner, sturdier Errani won out on this day, hitting only four winners and nine unforced errors.
“It was a tough match, I felt good mentally,” said Errani.