By Fernie Ruano, Jr.
It’s two up, two down at the 2014 Sony Open Tennis for No.1 seed Serena Williams after staving off a resilient Caroline Garcia – and a short rain delay - 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 Saturday afternoon to advance into the fourth round of play.
In his first match of the tournament, Australian Open champion and Sony Open third seed Stanislas Wawrinka started fast, then wavered, but ultimately showed the form that made him a Grand Slam champion to pull through his second round match against Spaniard Daniel Gimeno-Traver 6-0, 3-6, 6-3 on the Stadium Court. The Swiss player will next take on Frenchman Edouard Rogers-Vasselin who surprised Croat Marin Cilic in straight sets 6-2, 7-6(5), in the third round also on Saturday.
No. 7 seed Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic started his Sony campaign with a 7-6(5), 6-1 win over Stephane Robert of France, while Russian Alexandr Dolgopolov continued his recent resurgence with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Jarkko Nieminen of Finland. Robert Bautista Agut of Spain beat Jerzy Janowicz of Poland 6-4, 6-1; Joao Sousa of Portugal beat Giles Simon of France 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-3; and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain beat flamboyant Frenchman Gael Monfils.
In other men's action, Nicolas Almagro of Spain quieted American Sam Querrey 6-4, 6-4, while 10th-seeded American John Isner defeated his compatriot Donald Young in a hard fought three-setter, 6-7, 6-3, 6-4.
On the woman's side, No. 5 seed Angelique Kerber of Germany rolled past Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria 6-0, 6-2, while former French Open champion and No. 1 ranked player Ana Ivanovic beat Indian Wells champion Flavia Pennetta on the Grandstand court 6-4-6-3, and next takes on Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic who defeated Donna Vekic of Croatia 6-3, 6-4. Sara Errani of Italy beat Ekararina Makarova of Russia 6-3, 2-6, 6-4.
Williams complimented her opponent on the Stadium Court but added that she needed to up her game in the coming rounds. “Well, she’s obviously a really good player. She plays well,” said Williams after her third round win. She next takes on the winner of Sam Stouser-Coco Vandeweghe in the fourth round. “I really gave myself a tremendous amount of trouble out there.”
“I think, granted she played great, but I made so many errors. I hit so short. It really isn’t the same player. I have to do better.” Despite her critical assessment, Serena wasted no time in breaking Garcia’s serve, withstanding a long rally at 15-40 before a Garcia unforced error afforded Williams an early 2-1 lead in the first set. But unfazed by Williams’ 117 mile-an-hour serve, Garcia broke back at 2 and 3. Williams would win 3 of the next 4 games to take the first set in 38 minutes.
After watching Garcia take the second set, Williams jumped out to a 4-2 lead in the third but had to endure another service break before calling it a day. “It was a good match to have,” said the 20-year-old Garcia, who fell to 0-3 against Williams. “It was a good test for me because she’s (a) good player. “Unfortunately, I didn’t win, but it was a good (match).