Following two stunning upsets on Centre Court, an unexpected quarter-final is scheduled to take place at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships between former world No. 1 Venus Williams and Italy’s Flavia Pennetta. The two competitors previously met on seven occasions on the professional circuit, with Pennetta leading the head-to-head series 4-3. With the majority of their previous encounters being tight, competitive matches, Thursday’s match-up will likely to be no different.
Williams dismantled Serbia’s Ana Ivanovic in their second round contest on Wednesday afternoon, losing only three games in her dominant 6-2, 6-1 victory. The win comes as revenge for Ivanovic’s victory last month in the Auckland final, where Ivanovic snatched the victory and the trophy. The world No. 12 was simply unable to take advantage of the two break point opportunities in the opening set, and was clearly stunned by Venus’ extraordinary form, as the American only lost seven points in her second set service games.
Williams has been victorious in her last two appearances in Dubai, lifting the title in 2009 and in 2010, when she defeated Victoria Azarenka. She will be looking to maintain her record in this tournament against her upcoming opponent, Flavia Pennetta.
Pennetta, who had lost her last three encounters with the world No. 3 in straight sets, stunned the Pole with a straight sets victory to send her to the quarter-finals in Dubai. It certainly did not seem that way at the start, as Radwanska jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the first set, but then the Italian reeled off eight games in a row to build a 6-4 3-0 lead, and soon after closed out the match 6-4, 6-1.
“I’m of course really happy. It was the first time I’ve beaten her in six years – I thought I would never beat her again,” Pennetta said. “But today I played really well. My idea of what I had to do was clear, and I tried to go for the points all the time. I made a few mistakes in the beginning – I was down 4-1, but every game was a big fight – but I kept going and stayed aggressive and it worked in the end.”
These two competitors have had a competitive rivalry, dating back to their first encounter in Seoul in 2007. Pennetta leads the series 4-3, and also won their last encounter in Cincinnati. While that may be the case, the last time they met on the tour was five years ago, and both have changed significantly over that time. It will be interesting if Venus can finally tie the series, or if Pennetta will continue her unexpected campaign in Dubai.
Prediction: Venus Williams in three sets