New York — Sara Errani wagged her finger and cupped her hand to her ear for the U.S. Open fans who tried to will Venus Williams to victory.
“I think I will remember forever that moment,” Errani said.
Two points from defeat, the diminutive Italian rallied to force a third-set tiebreaker and outlasted Williams in a match that was both lopsided and tight.
Errani won 6-0, 0-6, 7-6 (5) in the third round Friday after Williams had a chance to serve out the match in the final set.
Williams twice came back from down a break in the third but was done in by too many unforced errors — she made 52 in all. Trying to close out the match at 5-3, the 19th-seeded Williams had one of her eight double-faults.
The 13th-seeded Errani next faces qualifier Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, who stunned second-ranked Simona Halep 7-6 (6), 6-2. Lucic-Baroni, 32, hadn’t made a Grand Slam round of 16 since 1999, waylaid by injuries and financial struggles.
“I feel like a little kid, like this is the first time ever happening,” Lucic-Baroni said.
Errani, who wasn’t thrilled with fans yelling out support for her opponent during her serves, won just 12 games in three previous meetings with Williams. But in the first set, Williams couldn’t take advantage of her power, making just 30 percent of her first serves.
Errani used her quickness to run Williams around the court, and the 34-year-old seemed sluggish after playing a long doubles match with her sister on Thursday night.
But in the second, Williams looked like the seven-time major champion she is, pouncing on Errani’s soft serves.
“She’s playing unbelievable,” Errani said. “I really don’t know how I won today.”
Sixth-seeded Angelique Kerber also was upset, losing 6-1, 7-5 to Swiss teen Belinda Bencic. Earlier, Peng Shuai again beat a seeded player to reach her second straight Grand Slam round of 16. Peng defeated 28th-seeded Roberta Vinci 6-4, 6-3.