US Open: Errani Lives Up to Her Lowered Expectations
Sara Errani all but admitted she could see her loss coming, as if those 0's in her first round 6-0, 6-0 victory against a 152nd-ranked lucky loser were eyeglasses that could see into the future.
The number 4 seed crashed and burned in a half-empty Arthur Ashe Stadium, losing to her friend and Italian Fed Cup teammate, 83rd-ranked Flavia Pennetta, 6-3, 6-1.
Tennis Hate, and tears, bubbled up while she explained herself to the Fourth Estate.
"I think the worst thing was the fight. Normally is my best thing that I do on the court, and today was not good," said Errani. "I'm not that kind of player that can go there and make ace and winner, and if the ball is going in I'm doing good. For me is to go there and fight."
I don't want to go to play. I don't want to play. I don't want to stay there on the court. I feel very bad." - Sara Errani
Today, there was no scrap in the scrappy 26-year-old, who was the runner up this year at the French Open and a semifinalist last year here, on the very same blue court where she had so much trouble keeping the bad thoughts and self-doubt at bay.
While she got 93% of her first serves in -- and who wouldn't on the tour, hitting at an average speed of 78 miles per hour? -- Errani only won 38% of those points. Yikes. Pennetta blasted through her Worthy Opponent, hitting 33 winners to Errani's 12.
"I tried to play aggressive from the very beginning and I was perfect today," said Pennetta.
Sounds like she's been hanging out with Roger Federer in the Player's Lounge.
Errani said the pressure of being in the Top Five has been weighing on her. She doesn't think she belongs here, just a few clicks down the rankings from Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka, who have 17 Grand Slam titles between them.
Errani has none.
"My problem isn't that I lost. I've lost a million times in my life," she said. "My problem is trying to find the desire to fight and be on the court ready to fight. For a few weeks, I haven't felt like I wanted to be on the court. I don't want to go to play. I don't want to play. I don't want to stay there on the court. I feel very bad."
O, anch'io, Sara, anch'io. When the Tennis Hate is thick and gooey, it's all I can do to walk onto the court. It feels like the soles of my shoes are melting into the asphalt. (Remember where I'm playing, Haters. Jackie Robinson Park in Bed-Stuy has no DecoTurf.) Just the other day, playing with my husband, I was broken, 4-5, a critical point in the set, and I was ready to walk off the court in disgust.
My Worthy Opponent and Husband had to remind me he still had to win in order to win. I was handing him the set, with my bad attitude, without putting up a fight.
I know all the players expecting from me, and I would like to know how to do. But you have to pass it on yourself." - Sara Errani
Not wanting to hand my husband anything, I mentally pulled up a chair and settled in. Let's make this a long conversation. I broke him back, and we went on to play a tie-break, one that I lost by only two points.
Sara Errani realizes, too, that it's an inside job. She may never have the fire power to get past Vika and Serena, but her game, her fight, has pushed her past Li Na and former number 1 Caroline Wozniacki and former Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova. To stay there, and stay for a while, she needs to stare down her own doubt that she really belongs. She needs to respect her own talent.
"I know all the players expecting from me, and I would like to know how to do," she said. "But you have to pass it on yourself, and it's not never the same that somebody is telling you and not that you are passing on that moment. So I hope this can make me stronger, make me to improve."