Zvonareva keeps Russian flag flying at U.S. Open

Vera Zvonareva of Russia serves to Andrea Petkovic of Germany during the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York September 6, 2010. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine

NEW YORK, Sept 6 - (Reuters) - Vera Zvonareva kept alive Russia’s fading challenge at the U.S. Open with a rapid-fire 6-1 6-2 victory over unseeded German Andrea Petkovic on Monday to erase the disappointment of her exit at the same stage last year.

Zvonareva overpowered Petkovic to wrap up their center court clash in just 67 minutes and advance to her first quarter-final at Flushing Meadows, where she will face Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi.

“I think I was a little bit more consistent and experienced than her,” Zvonareva, seeded seventh, said in a courtside interview.

Zvonareva has now made the quarter-finals of each of the four grand slams after blowing six match points in her third-round loss to Flavia Pennetta at Arthur Ashe Stadium 12 months ago.

“I’m not really thinking about last year,” she said. “That’s something that was in the past, I’m just looking forward.”

Zvonareva’s emphatic win also provided some consolation for Russia after the country’s two former U.S. Open women’s champions, Maria Sharapova and Svetlana Kuznetsova, were both knocked out on Monday, leaving her and men’s 12th seed Mikhael Youzhny as the only survivors with six days left in the championship.

Although Zvonareva has not won a grand slam title, the 25-year-old was a finalist at Wimbledon this year and is currently Russia’s highest ranked player at number eight.

Reporting by Julian Linden. Editing by Steve Ginsburg