THE centre court crowd on Wednesday were treated to one of the all time classics at Devonshire Park as Russia’s Vera Zonerava knocked out Serena Williams after a marathon encounter.
It took three-hours 12 minutes to separate the pair as they slugged it out, with Zonerava eventually coming out on top 3-6, 7-6, 7-5.
Williams said, “I am disappointed to be knocked out, I thought I would do better.”
“But I’m pleased to come back and play two hours (Monday) and three hours today (Wednesday) is great. I am a bit sore but the foot feels okay.”
Zvonerava added, “it was a long match but I don’t feel that tired, I feel pretty good.
“I kept fighting and I am really happy I won it. I have a lot of respect for Serena she is a great champion. Sometimes it’s not easy when you come back from a long injury.”
Williams lost her first service game but there was to be no repeat of Tuesday’s first set against Tsvetana Pironkova when she crumbled 6-1.
Williams of course went on to win and tee up a repeat of the 2010 Wimbledon final where she beat Zvonerava in straight sets.
Williams, knowing number-one seed Zvonerava is made of sterner stuff than Pironkova, hit back instantly and sealed the first set with her best game of tennis since her return from injury and illness.
One nonchalant cross court forehand winner brought cheers of delight from the crowd and the next point she followed up with a stinging backhand down the line that left Zvonerava helpless. One more heavy first serve and the first set belonged to Williams.
She broke the Russian early in the second but had to fend off a break against her at 3-2 with a big serve out to the backhand of Zvonerava.
The next game saw the rally of the match and one that tested the fitness of Williams. After an exhausting exchange Serena was forced to scamper back to fetch a lob but her overhead return fell wide. She did however recover quickly to power down a serve to clinch the game.
She looked to be coasting at 5-3 up but the world number-two saved her best tennis as Williams attempted to serve out the match. The Russian forced a break point, Serena double-faulted and Zvonerava eventually took the set 7-5 on a tie break.
Zvonerava raced into a 3-0 lead as the months spent off the court seemed to catch up on Williams. The number one seed broke serve once again for 5-2 but Williams showed her resolve once more and broke back as the Russian served for the match. At 5-5 Williams somehow staved off four match points including an incredible back hand down the line.
But with 3 hours and 12 minutes on the clock Zvonerava finally converted to seal a memorable victory and set up a clash with Aussie Sam Stouser.
Venus Williams showed impressive form on Wednesday to despatch former world number one Ana Ivanovic in straight sets.
Williams brushed Ivanovic aside 6-3, 6-2 in just over an hour of play.
The American said, “I felt good to be able to get on top of her today. Today was great, no breaks of serve, that’s ideal for me in the match. I was really happy to have those clean service games and not a lot of errors.”
Fifth seed Petra Kvitova knocked out 2010 AEGON International champion Ekaterina Makarova in two tight tie-break sets and seventh seed Sam Stosur also won in straight sets.
There was a shock in round two as fourth seed and French Open finalist Francesca Schiavone lost out 6-3, 6-2 to Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland.