By Pete Iacobelli ,AP
By Pete Iacobelli CHARLESTON, South Carolina — Venus Williams couldn’t dig herself out of a hole this time and lost to Eugenie Bouchard of Canada 7-6 (6), 2-6, 6-4 at the Family Circle Cup on Thursday.
Williams fought back in each of her first two matches to advance. She seemed to follow the same game-plan in this one, rallying from a set down to win the second set and lead 2-1 in the third.
That’s when Bouchard took over, breaking Williams’ serve twice in the third set, including the final game.
“She played a lot more consistently than I did,” Williams said.
Bouchard finished things off by reaching Williams’ drop shot and pushing it into the open court for her first victory over the seven-time Grand Slam champion.
“I’ve shown to myself how mentally strong I can be,” said Bouchard, seeded sixth. “Today was really a mental battle. It was a bit ugly at times and tough on the court, but I fought through it.”
Williams was the 2004 Family Circle champion. She reached the semifinals here last year where she lost to sister Serena, the eventual champion.
Bouchard will next face second-seed Jelena Jankovic, the 2007 Family Circle champion who at No. 8 in world is the highest-ranked player remaining in the tournament. Jankovic defeated Croatia’s Ajla Tomljanovic 7-5, 6-1.
Jankovic has reached the Family Circle quarterfinals in six of the past seven seasons. She’s been beaten by a Williams sister each of the last two years, falling to Venus in 2012 and to Serena in last year’s championship finals.
Jankovic struggled early as the 20-year-old Tomljanovic fought off a set point to tie the opening set at 5-all. Jankovic then won eight of the next nine games to move forward.
“I missed that overhead on my set point, which was kind of frustrating, and we leveled it at 5 5,” Jankovic said. “But I was able to stay calm and regroup and finish that set. So that was very important.”
Others advancing to the round of eight included third-seed Sara Errani, who outlasted Peng Shuai of China, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5); Andrea Petkovic, who topped fourth-seeded Sabine Lisicki 6-1, 6-0 and Samantha Stosur, seeded seventh, was beaten by No. 9 seed Lucie Safarova 3-6, 6-4, 6-4.
In an all-German match; Jana Cepelova of Slovakia, who defeated Elena Vesnina of Russia 7-6 (4), 3-6, 6-3; and Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia, who beat Teliana Pereira of Brazil 6-2, 6-3.
Errani rallied in each of her sets to eliminate Peng, the world’s top-ranked doubles player.
For Cepelova, it was her second big victory of this event after knocking off world No. 1 Serena Williams in a stunner on Tuesday.