New York: Serena Williams and Ana Ivanovic sprang to the defense of Sara Errani on Thursday after the Italian made a tearful US Open exit, claiming she had been overwhelmed by the stress of being fourth seed.
"I'm feeling too much pressure. I don't know why, but I'm not enjoying going on the courts, and that is the worst thing a player can have," said Errani, who was defeated by compatriot Flavia Pennetta, 6-3, 6-1 in the second round.
Errani, a French Open runner-up in 2012 and a semi-finalist in New York 12 months ago, had been bumped up to the fourth seeding after the injury-enforced withdrawal of Maria Sharapova.
"I know the situation. I know all the players are expecting from me," said Errani, who despite the pressures has remained level-headed enough to gather $2 million in her career.
Williams, the world number one who is chasing a fifth US Open title and 17th major in all, is having no such problems in New York, dropping just four games en route to the third round.
But the American believes Errani should not get too down on herself.
"It's hard but I think she's doing a good job," Williams said. "I mean, sometimes you have a tough day at the office, and it doesn't mean that you didn't handle the pressure well. I think she's a good player."
Ivanovic can sympathize with Errani.
When she captured the French Open title in 2008, the Serb ascended to the world number one spot but has endured a roller-coaster career ever since, struggling to live up to expectations.
She too famously collapsed in tears at a post-match news conference following an injury-hit retirement at Wimbledon in 2009 against Venus Williams.
"When you're number one, everyone is trying to beat you and everyone is playing their best tennis against you. It's like you have bull's eye on your back," said Ivanovic, playing in New York as the 13th seed.
The Serb said she had great sympathy for Errani's public meltdown.
"There is obviously pressure from your own country, from the media, and everything else that you put on yourself," said Ivanovic.
"And sometimes when you don't match that, if you're perfectionist, it can actually hurt you. This is what happens sometimes. This was probably the hardest lesson that I learned."
The 26-year-old Errani, at her highest-ever seeding of fourth at a Grand Slam, was bumped up when golden girl Sharapova pulled out with a shoulder injury.
She had arrived in New York having lost in the opening stage of Cincinnati and New Haven, but looked more than comfortable in the US Open first round with a 6-0, 6-0 mauling of Australia's Olivia Rogowska.
Having played 106 matches in singles and doubles in 2013 coming into the tournament, she admitted that rediscovering her enjoyment of the sport is her biggest challenge.
"If you go there and you fight and you lose, not a problem," Errani said. "But the problem is if you go there and you are not fighting, that is something I always had as my good thing. And I have to find a way. I hope to find it."