SHE IS No 2 in the world and played in two Grand Slam finals last year but Vera Zvonareva could still walk down most streets unnoticed. The 26-year-old Russian was beaten by Kim Clijsters in the final here 12 months ago and is already through to this week's quarter-finals thanks to a comfortable 6-2, 6-3 victory over Germany's Sabine Lisicki on Sunday night.
Zvonareva, an uncomplicated player who has made steady improvement in recent years, made only 11 unforced errors against the Wimbledon semi-finalist. In the next round, however, she will be facing an opponent who has consistently got the better of her. Australia's Sam Stosur lost to Zvonareva in their first two meetings, but in the last four years has beaten her seven times in a row.
"I know that Sam is an experienced player," Zvonareva said. "She's a fit player. But we will see. I think I'll have to show my best tennis to beat her. Actually, the last couple of times I played against Sam we played very tight matches. We've always had tough ones."
Stosur, who also reached the quarter-finals here last year, has been in record-breaking form. Her third-round meeting with Nadia Petrova was the longest match in tournament history at three hours and 16 minutes, while her 6-2, 6-7, 6-3 victory over Russia's Maria Kirilenko on Sunday featured the longest tie-break in a women's match at any Grand Slam event. Kirilenko won it 17-15 after saving five match points, including three as the result of successful Hawk-Eye challenges after her shots were called out.
"Obviously I knew the tie-break was pretty long, but I lost track of the score," Stosur said afterwards. "I didn't know at one point if I was serving or receiving or when we should be changing ends, what was going on. So I've got another record here at the US Open, which is cool."
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