Flushing Meadows, NY (SportsNetwork.com) – Second seed Simona Halep and two- time champion Venus Williams were a pair of third-round losers Friday at the U.S. Open.
The French Open runner-up Halep succumbed to 32-year-old Croat Mirjana Lucic- Baroni 7-6 (8-6), 6-2 on the famed Grandstand court. Halep is just 4-3 since titling in her native Romania last month.
Halep had reached at least the quarterfinals at the year’s first three Grand Slam events.
Meanwhile, 13th-seeded gritty Italian Sara Errani outlasted the 19th-seeded former world No. 1 Venus in 6-0, 0-6, 7-6 (7-5) fashion at Ashe Stadium.
After swapping a pair of bagel sets, Errani and the seven-time major champion Venus got down to business in the third, where Venus blew a 5-3 lead as the Italian eventually forced a tiebreak.
The former French Open runner-up Errani set up a match point with a backhand winner and closed out the entertaining bout with a forehand winner into an open court after just over two hours of compelling tennis.
The 34-year-old Venus was the back-to-back U.S. Open champ in 2000 and 2001 and is also a two-time runner-up in New York.
Errani will face Lucic-Baroni in the round of 16.
Meanwhile, ninth-seeded former No. 1 and 2008 U.S. Open runner-up Jelena Jankovic swatted Swede Johanna Larsson 6-1, 6-0 in 58 minutes at Ashe and 17- year-old promising Swiss Belinda Bencic ousted sixth-seeded German Angelique Kerber 6-1, 7-5. The Serbian Jankovic will face Bencic in her next outing.
Four of the top-10 seeds have been knocked out of the depleted women’s draw.
A mild upset came when Chinese Peng Shuai took out 28th-seeded Italian Roberta Vinci 6-4, 6-3 on the hardcourts at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Peng ousted fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska here on Wednesday.
Two other former world No. 1s — Maria Sharapova and Caroline Wozniacki — are also slated for action Friday in Flushing.