Mamma Mia! Errani admits to cracking under pressure

Fri Aug 30, 2013 1:53am EDT
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By Julian Linden

NEW YORK (Reuters) - From the outside, Italy's Sara Errani appears to be living La Dolce Vita, looking as though she hardly has a care in the world. But behind the dazzling smile, she has a dark secret.

Her recent success in tennis has come at a high price. The pressure, she said, had become so overbearing that she was struggling to sleep at night and no longer enjoying the prospect of going on court.

"I don't know why," she told reporters at the U.S. Open on Thursday after a 6-3 6-1 loss to Flavia Pennetta. "I think it's the pressure. Everything is very difficult for me."

The Italian is one of the rising stars of women's tennis, ranked number one in the world in doubles and fifth in singles. She has a globe-trotting lifestyle and has earned nearly $7 million in prize money.

Two days ago, everything seemed in perfect order when she creamed Australia's Olivia Rogowska 6-0 6-0 in a lop-sided first round match that lasted less than an hour. But on Thursday, she was out of the tournament after suffering one of the biggest upsets of the championship.

Then she made a startling admission.

In the cut-throat world of professional sport where athletes go to extreme lengths to hide their weaknesses, Errani revealed all her fears.

"I'm feeling too much pressure," the 26-year-old confessed. "I don't know why, but I'm not enjoying going on the courts, and that is the worst thing a player can have.   Continued...

Sara Errani of Italy sits during a break in play against compatriot Flavia Pennetta at the U.S. Open tennis championships in New York August 29, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Segar