This was a special U.S. Open for Victoria Duval, even it lasted just two matches.
Her mammoth upset victory over 2011 champ Samantha Stosur Tuesday gave a glimpse of her promise. Her 6-2, 6-3 loss to Daniela Hantuchova Thursday night shows how far she has to go.
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The 17-year-old from Bradenton, Fla., who flashed a pretty good backhand and a nimble set of feet in the win over Stosur, didn't seem to have the same energy or effectiveness last night. The score looked a little worse than the competitive level, but there was little doubt about the outcome.
And there was little doubt that the teen had the best of times here. Court 17 was jam-packed last night for a day session match that didn't start until 8:45. The New York crowd was warm in its support, but seemed to withhold its full-throated fervor, wanting Duval to prove herself first.
And while she got breaks of serve against Hantuchova in both sets, she failed to hold on to them. Hantuchova exposed Duval's biggest weakness, her serve. And with her forehand not as sharp as it was against Stosur, Duval looked always to be on the short end.
"I couldn't quite get myself going tonight," Duval said. "I missed a couple of shots by a couple inches. I think those were the ones that ended up making the difference because I was in every game. But, you know, beating Sam in the first round, and feeling a little bit of expectations in the second round, that's something I'm going to have to learn to adapt to."
Surrounded by attention the last two days, from media and fans, it's been a chore to handle the burst of stardom she achieved. But she was particularly touched by the children who sought her out.
"I'm just really proud that I've been able to give myself not only a good image on the court but off the court," Duval said. "I think I was touched by all the little kids that came up to me and told me that I'm their role model. I think for a 17-year-old, that's pretty cool to hear."
But ultimately what she learned is where she is in the game. "I'm capable of playing at this level," she said.
One of the very best, Victoria Azarenka, advanced Thursday with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Aleksandra Wozniak in a second-round match. That ran her record on hard courts this year to 27-1.
At the start of the season she defended her Australian Open title on the hard courts of Melbourne, and has defeated Serena Williams in the finals of Doha and Cincinnati. Her one hard court loss was against Stosur.
Azarenka, the Open's No. 2 seed, was asked if her relationship to hard courts was like an old lover.
"Old lover, huh? Well, that's a good one," she said.
"I would say it's my husband, hard court, my husband if we talk about relationship status because we have been together for a long time, got really comfortable with each other. Yeah, it's my husband."
Notes & quotes: No. 4 seed Sara Errani lost to Italian countrywoman Flavia Pennetta, 6-3, 6-1 . . . Caroline Wozniacki beat Chanelle Scheepers, 6-1, 6-2 in the opener of the night session.