New York - Roger Federer and Serena Williams, stress-free and loving the limelight, strolled into the third round of the US Open on Thursday as the pressure began to mount at the year's last grand slam.
For Federer and Williams, it was business as usual at Flushing Meadows but not for Italy's Sara Errani, the women's fourth seed.
Crumbling under the weight of expectation, Errani crashed to a 6-3 6-1 loss to compatriot Flavia Pennetta and made the startling admission that she had choked under pressure.
“I don't know why, but I'm not enjoying going on the courts,” she told reporters. “And that is the worst thing a player can have.”
Victoria Azarenka, last year's runner-up, continued her love affair with the New York City hardcourts with a 6-3 6-1 win over Canada's Aleksandra Wozniak.
“I would say it's my husband, hardcourts,” she said.
“Because we have been together for a long time (we) got really comfortable with each other.”
British qualifier Dan Evans, one of the surprises of the tournament, continued his impressive run with a 1-6 6-3 7-6(4) 6-3 win over Australia's Bernard Tomic.
The Englishman, who said he was suffering from an unusual affliction in sore nipples, also revealed he was recently given a juicy incentive to beat Tomic by the Australian's father.
“It was quite funny, actually,” Evans said.
“I was there playing quallies. His dad sort of fobbed me off and said I wasn't good enough to practise with him. I remembered that.”
Evans, ranked 179th in the world, had no problems finding a practice partner at Flushing Meadows, however, with even Federer joining him for a hit.
The Swiss master, unflappable even as he struggles to add to his record collection of 17 grand slam singles titles, hardly raised a sweat as he brushed aside Argentina's Carlos Berlocq 6-3 6-2 6-1 on Thursday.
“For me it was pretty straightforward, to be honest,” Federer said. “It's one of those matches I expect myself to win if possible in straight sets and gain confidence in the process.
“All those things happened, so, yeah, I'm pleased about it.”
Williams was also unflustered even though the wind was blowing hard when she strolled onto the Arthur Ashe Stadium centre court.
Her match against Galina Voskoboeva of Kazakhstan had originally been scheduled for Wednesday but was held over because of rain. Unfazed, she cruised to a 6-3 6-0 win then later teamed up with her sister Venus to win their first round doubles match.
“I'm just trying to do the best I can,” Williams said. “Just always trying to get a little better.”
With Wednesday's rain giving way to brilliant sunshine, most of Thursday's other day matches were decided according to player rankings.
Fourth seed David Ferrer, this year's French Open finalist, beat fellow Spaniard Roberto Bautista 6-3 6-7(5) 6-1 6-2.
Richard Gasquet, Janko Tipsarevic and Dmitry Tursunov all won without dropping a set. The only men's seed to fall was American Sam Querrey, seeded 26th, who lost to Frenchman Adrian Mannarino.
Caroline Wozniacki, Petra Kvitova, Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic were among the winners in the women's draw, which lost four seeds, the most notable being Errani, ranked world number five in singles and number one in doubles.
One of the sport's most improved players in recent seasons, the 26-year-old Errani was promoted to fourth seed when Maria Sharapova pulled out of the tournament but was overcome by the pressure.
She said she had been shaking and struggling to sleep for four days and did not want to go on court.
“I don't want to go to play. I don't want to stay there on the court. I feel very bad,” she said. “So that is the problem for me.” - Reuters