Sara Errani charged into the fourth round of the US Open with a crushing 6-1 6-1 defeat of Olga Puchkova on Saturday.
The Italian was just too steady for her Russian opponent, making only 7 unforced errors during her 59-minute victory. The result means that Errani, ranked 10th in the world, has now made it to the last 16 of three Grand Slams this season. It is the latest highlight in a career-best year for the diminutive player from Bologna, who surprised everyone by reaching the final of the French Open in June. She is also riding high in the doubles draw, second-seeded with her compatriot Roberta Vinci. In spite of the defeat, Puchkova will probably leave Flushing Meadows feeling happy with her form. The Russian has spent much of the year playing less prestigious ITF tournaments, and has often failed to even qualify for main draw WTA events. The fact that she came through three rounds of qualifying at the US Open, and then managed to win two matches, represents a significant upturn in her fortunes this year. At 24 years old, Puchkova has seen her ranking slip into triple figures after a career-high of 32 in 2007. She will be hopeful that she can begin the slow climb back to the top 100. As for Errani, she next faces the German Angelique Kerber, whom she beat in the quarter-finals at 2012 Roland Garros. Playing the sixth seed on hard courts will be a more difficult task, however, as clay is undoubtedly the Italian’s favourite surface. She will need to play more offensively and take full advantage of break point opportunities if she is to make the last 8.