Julia Glushko’s incredible run at Flushing Meadows came to an end yesterday when she finally succumbed to the experienced Slovak Daniela Hantuchova 6-3, 5-7, 6-7 in the third round of the U.S. Open – the first time the young Israeli had advanced to such a stage of a Grand Prix tournament.
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Glushko began the third-round clash in impressive style, breaking Hantuchova’s serve at the first attempt, although her rival fought back to 2-2. But the determined Israeli kept her cool and stayed near the baseline, patiently waiting for the Slovak to make errors. Glushko broke again for 4-2 and held on to take the first set 6-3 in only 40 minutes.
Glushko’s serve was broken in the first game of the second set and she was 40-0 down in the second game, but showed tremendous grit to force her way back, eventually taking the longest game of the encounter to regain parity in the set at 1-1.
Glushko held on to her next service game, after which Hantuchova needed medical attention to her shoulder. The Israeli showed no mercy, breaking serve again to go 3-1 ahead. The next four games went to serve, meaning that Glushko was serving for the match at 5-3.
But then came a turnaround in fortunes. Glushko succumbed to an aggressive fightback by the 30-year-old Slovakian, ranked 48 in the world, who took the next four games to win the set 7-5 as the Israeli appeared to tire.
When Hantuchova broke Glushko’s serve to go 1-0 ahead in the third and deciding set, it was her sixth successive game, and two games later, with the gap in quality between the players becoming more apparent, it was 3-0.
Then Glushko managed an unexpected fightback, breaking the Slovak’s serve twice to make it 3-3, but the more experienced Hantuchova took the seventh game of the set and at that point looked likely to sail into the next round.
Yet somehow the Israeli found reserves of strength and inspiration, winning the next two games and needing only one more game to seal the match. The tenth game of the final set was truly dramatic, with Glushko standing only a point away from victory on four occasions, but each time the more senior player produced the shot she needed to hang on.
Both players hung on to their last service games to set up a nail-biting tie break, which Hantuchova won 7-4.
It was the first meeting between the two players.
The 23-year-old Israeli, ranked No. 128 in the world, had previously beaten Anastasia Rodionova (119) 6-3, 6-2, before producing a major upset in defeating world No. 22 Nadia Petrova, a former world No. 3, in the second round.
Hantuchova will now face American wild card Alison Riske (ranked 81 in the world), who surprised all the experts at Flushing Meadows yesterday by destroying No. 7 seed Petra Kvitova 6-3, 6-0. Riske produced a display of power tennis, landing 70 percent of her first serves and nailing 12 winners while only hitting seven errors.
Glushko, who is now assured a ranking in the top 100, will have learned much from her experience this summer at the Arthur Ashe Stadium.