Duval ousted by Hantuchova in straight sets
NEW YORK -- Victoria Duval couldn't believe little kids were telling a teenager that she's their role model.
"I think for a 17-year-old, that's pretty cool to hear," she said about her U.S. Open experience that lasted all of two matches but will be remembered much longer.
After upsetting 2011 champion Sam Stosur, Duval spent two days as the darling of the tournament. Then she ran into a veteran player 12½ years her senior who reminded everyone that the young American is still a 296th-ranked qualifier.
Daniela Hantuchova won 6-2, 6-3 in the second round Thursday. Duval was up a break early in each set, but those leads quickly evaporated.
"I don't think I ever felt free in the match today," Duval said. "I don't think it had to do with the score or anything. She hits really hard. I couldn't quite get myself going. I gave myself a couple chances, but I just never felt comfortable today."
Duval got goose bumps when she saw video of her breakthrough victory in the locker room Wednesday. It was just her second Grand Slam match; she lost to another former champ, Kim Clijsters, in the first round of last year's U.S. Open.
After beating Stosur, Duval did interview after interview after interview.
"It was overwhelming," she said. "But I think this is what it's all about."
This is what she'll have to cope with if she reaches her goals. Duval is still gaining the experience that a player like Hantuchova can bring into a match.
The 30-year-old from Slovakia has been ranked as high as No. 5, though that was more than a decade ago. A 2008 Australian Open semifinalist, her ranking has slipped to 48th; she hadn't reached the third round at a Grand Slam tournament since the 2012 Australian.
But on Thursday, Hantuchova controlled the match with her serve, something Duval needs to improve. Doctors say she is still growing, though she's content with being 5-foot-10.
And she doesn't want to get ahead of herself with expectations, either.
"I know that was a big win, but I'm not going to go above and beyond myself, just because I think I'm going to set reasonable goals," Duval said. "This was just another tournament. I'm going to keep working hard."
She smiled as she added: "I did better than last year, so I'm happy about that."