Aug 29 2013
Venus Williams is out of the US Open after losing a thriller against Zheng Jie.
Williams has only reached the third round at a grand slam once in the past two years, losing more than her fair share of close matches.
And this was another one, Zheng eventually coming through 6-3 2-6 7-6 (7/5) and then apologising to the crowd for beating one of their favourites.
Rain made the final stages even more dramatic, with Williams breaking Zheng when she served for the match and forcing a tie-break, and she really should have brought up the first match point.
But at 5-5 she dumped a simple volley in the net and then put a backhand wide to hand victory to her opponent after three hours and two minutes.
Williams said: "I should have made the shot. I think I was just rushing. I rushed so badly.
"I had a lot of opportunities in the match. I was always stepping up and putting myself in a good position. So this is a great sign. I'm just not playing consistently enough.
"I just dug myself into so many holes the whole match. I just fought as hard as I could to get out of them, but sometimes it wasn't enough."
There is rarely a Williams press conference these days where she is not asked about retirement, but she has never given so much as a hint that she is thinking about it.
Asked whether she sees herself playing singles again at the US Open, she said: "I definitely want to come back for the atmosphere.
"Next year's Open is so far away right now. I have to think about the doubles, think about this fall, playing maybe quite a few tournaments until the season is over just to get some momentum going into next season."
Serena Williams' delayed match has been scheduled second on Arthur Ashe on Thursday while second seed Victoria Azarenka takes on Aleksandra Wozniak on Louis Armstrong.
The two happiest players were Li Na and Agnieszka Radwanska, who beat the rain to reach the third round.
Third seed Radwanska had a tough second set against Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor but came through 6-0 7-5 while fifth seed Li defeated Sweden's Sofia Arvidsson 6-2 6-2.
Li said: "I was so lucky before the rain came that I finished the match so I don't have to wait and warm up and come to the court again. It is tough for (everyone else).
"For me, I'll just relax for the rest of the day and do whatever I want to do."
Li plays 30th seed Laura Robson in the third round in a repeat of last year's clash at the same stage, which was won by the British teenager.
Meanwhile, Flushing Meadows was still buzzing from the performance of 17-year-old Victoria Duval, who upset former champion Sam Stosur under the lights on Tuesday night.
The teenager grew up in Haiti, where she was once held hostage as a seven-year-old, but moved to America to further her tennis and plays for the US.
Duval was cheered on by a whole section of family and friends, including her father, Jean-Maurice.
A doctor in Haiti, he almost died in the devastating 2010 earthquake and has been unable to work since.
Duval is ranked 296th in the world and came through qualifying to reach the main draw, and she hopes her run here will make life easier.
She said: "It was definitely financially difficult, especially after the earthquake. My dad wasn't able to work any more.
"I've been very fortunate. A couple of family members have helped me. Hopefully with this win, that will change a little bit."
Most importantly for Duval, her father, who now lives in Canada, is on the mend.
She said: "He's improving so much. Emotionally it was hard at first but he's as happy as he's ever been. He had a couple of surgeries that helped take the pain away.
"We're just so happy that he's in a good state of mind right now. He's just here with us so it's incredible."