Venus taken to the wire by teenage Croatian

Venus Williams was stretched to the limit in the second round of the WTA Zurich Challenge in Switzerland by 16 year-old qualifier Ana Ivanovic.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:08 IST
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Venus Williams was stretched to the limit in the second round of the US$ 1.3-million WTA Zurich Challenge in Switzerland on Thursday, by 16 year-old qualifier Ana Ivanovic. The Croatian teenager was eventually beaten 7-6, 7-6 squandering eight set points along the way, but Venus Williams, the number seven seed, emerged the winner in an hour and 49 minutes. In other last sixteen matches, Elena Dementieva, the number three seed, overcame her compatriot Elena Bovina, 7-5, 6-3, 6-0 and home favourite Patty Schnyder beat Colombia's Fabiola Zuluaga, 6-4, 6-3. Endurance on display Determination and endurance were the qualities required by the players on the third day of action at the Zurich Challenge as the number three seed, Elena Dementieva took on her Russian compatriot Elena Bovina for a place in the last eight. Following pre-tournament withdrawals, Dementieva finds herself the top ranked player left in the draw, but was taken to a deciding set by her Federation Cup team mate. However, the third set was a procession, Dementieva winning six straight games and the runner-up at both Roland Garros and the U.S. Open, triumphed 7-5, 3-6, 6-0 in an hour and 46 minutes. Teenager's challenge The following match was even more intense and lasted three minutes longer, despite Venus Williams, the number seven seed, being up against a teenage qualifier ranked world number 155. However, 16 year-old Ana Ivanovic from Croatia has won five ITF tournaments this year and forced a tiebreak in the first set, showing few nerves against the former world number one. There was no doubt that Williams was under pressure and a fortunate net cord allowed Ivanovic to set up a fourth set point in spectacular fashion as the American tried to defend the net. However, a poor choice of shot allowed Williams to level the breaker at 9-9, the Croatian's attempted drop shot drawing Venus to the net for an emphatic winner. Ivanovic even created a fifth set point at 10-9, but could not convert and four minutes short of the hour, Williams took the set 13 points to 11 as the teenager put a backhand wide and long. If the crowd thought that Venus Williams would now serenely progress to the last eight, they were mistaken as Ivanovic recovered from 2-4 down to force another tiebreak. This time the Croatian raced to a 6-3 lead, but with the set at her mercy, she faltered. After losing the next two points, Ivanovic was presented with an easy backhand volley at the net - but it was wasted, allowing Venus to square the breaker and a few points later it was all over. Venus rebounds Another ground stroke error, this time on the forehand, gave Venus Williams a 7-6, 7-6 victory in an hour and 49 minutes, but this must have been one of the hardest straight sets wins of her career. Venus goes on to meet Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova for a place in the last four. In contrast, Patty Schnyder's match against Fabiola Zuluaga was all over in 62 minutes 6-4, 6-3 and ended in anti-climactic fashion with a double fault from the Colombian. The crowd though, were not disappointed to see the number ten seed and home favourite get through to the last eight for the third time in this tournament. Schnyder will take on another South American, Paola Suarez of Argentina, in the quarter finals. (AP)