Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Qualifier Eclipses Venus Third Seed Crumbles on Clay at Amelia

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Qualifier Eclipses Venus Third Seed Crumbles on Clay at Amelia

Article excerpt

AMELIA ISLAND -- Oh, Canada!

Sonya Jeyaseelan, a bubbly, pint-sized Canadian ranked 140th in the WTA Tour rankings, earned her way into Bausch & Lomb Championships history yesterday by upsetting sixth-ranked and third-seeded Venus Williams.

The 5-foot-2 Jeyaseelan refused to be intimidated by the 6-1 Williams, and pounded out a 6-4, 7-6 (8-6) victory on the Stadium Court. Jeyaseelan, an unseeded qualifier who won a pair of matches to earn a spot in the main draw, matched Williams' powerful groundstrokes and rallied from a 6-2 tiebreak deficit to record the Tour's biggest upset in terms of rankings since 453rd-ranked Serena Williams beat second-ranked Monica Seles at Chicago in October 1997.

"I don't know if she took me lightly or if she took me seriously, but I'm sure she was expecting an easier match," said Jeyaseelan, who became just the second player to beat a No. 1-, 2- or 3-seeded player in their opening match in tournament history. "A top player already has an advantage. They intimidate the lower-ranked players. Maybe she thought that I would be intimidated. But as soon as I was on the court, I'm a different personality and she didn't intimidate me at all.

"I like to compete and I like friction a little bit. It didn't scare me and it was actually good because I wanted to show her I wasn't intimidated at all by who she was or what she's done."

What Williams had done this season, prior to yesterday, was win 10 consecutive matches -- which included titles at Lipton and Oklahoma City. But that didn't matter against Jeyaseelan. Even though she rallied from 2-0 and 5-3 deficits in the second set and grabbed a 6-2 lead in the tiebreak, Williams was unable to force a third set.

"She mixed up her shots well," said Williams, who double-faulted seven times -- her last coming with the tiebreak tied 6-6. "She was consistent. Those are the things that you have to do.

"She played good tennis, but I definitely don't think I played my best tennis. …

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