Friday, September 02, 2005

Serena Sets Up Possible Sister Showdown

Eighth seed Serena Williams fought off Francesca Schiavone (25) winning in straight sets 6-3, 6-4 to setup a possible showdown against sister Venus in the Round of 16. If Venus defeats Daniela Hantuchova tonight, the match will come down.

After a relatively easy 28 minute opening set in which she broke twice, the second set was more of a challenge for Serena. Schiavone raised her game and matched Serena groundstroke for groundstroke in the 44 minute set. But when the two-time U.S. Open champion hit a winner down the line to break her opponent and go up 4-2, it looked like the finish line was in sight. Schiavone had other ideas quickly breaking back the next game and then holding her serve to level the set four all.

With Serena looking a little vulnerable in the ninth game, Schiavone got to deuce and applied pressure but the resilient American fought her off to get within a game of victory. With Schiavone serving to stay in it, that's when Serena seized the moment saving her best for last. Dictating the first three points from the baseline, she hammered a couple of winners and reached three match points. But the Italian didn't go quietly, nailing two first serves that were unreturnable. But when she was forced to hit a second serve on the final match point, Serena took advantage of the short ball and crushed a backhand winner down the line to clinch the win.

Serena, who announced after her second round triumph that she was donating $100 to the Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund for each ace she hits the rest of the tournament, contributed four today.

Top seed Maria Sharapova also advanced on Day Five defeating Julia Schruff 6-2, 6-4. She'll next face Indian-born Sania Mirza, who defeated Marian Bartoli 7-6 (4), 6-4. The 19-year-old Mirza is getting a lot of attention because of her background. She isn't like other female tennis players coming from a more reserved family with traditional values. In her first year on the WTA Tour, she's already climbed up to number 42 in the world and made her first Round of 16. It will be a contrast in styles when she battles the WTA's glamour girl Sharapova, who's made millions off the court in endorsements and been featured in fashion magazines.

Also moving on to Round Four was ninth seed Nadia Petrova, eliminating American Laura Granville 6-2, 7-5. She'll next meet rising 16-year-old Czech Nicole Vaidisova (26), who defeated Ivana Lisjak 6-1, 7-6 (2) for her first ever slam Round of 16. The winner of that match will meet Sharapova-Mirza in the quarterfinals.

In men's second round action, third seed Lleyton Hewitt moved on with a straight sets victory over Jose Acasuso 7-6 (6), 7-6 (3), 6-2. He'll next face American Taylor Dent, who had his second straight four set win, this time over Nicolas Almagro 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 7-5. Dent has met Hewitt before in slams and recently lost in four sets to the Aussie in the fourth round of Wimbledon. It should be an exciting match because of their contrasts in styles with Hewitt the gritty baseliner who runs down shots and Dent, the classic serve and volleyer.

Thailand's Paradorn Srichaphan surprised sixth seed Nikolay Davydenko in straight sets 6-4, 7-5, 6-3. Srichaphan, who has had success here with a fourth round showing two years ago, will try to continue his resurgence against Italian Davide Sanguinetti, who was an upset winner over Carlos Moya (31) 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4.

Also advancing to the third round were Dominik Hrbaty (15) and David Ferrer (17). Both were straight set winners and will meet for a chance at the Round of 16.

Serbia and Montenegro's Novak Djokovic continued his run upending Mario Ancic (22) in four 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (4), 6-3. The 18-year-old made headlines Tuesday when he battled heat exhaustion, cramps and a calf problem to comeback and defeat Frenchman Gael Monfils. He took three bathroom breaks and at a crucial point in the fifth set two points from losing, fell flat on his back and needed a trainer in a lengthy break that took more than 10 minutes. It was seen as controversial and Djokovic even apologized afterwards admitting he needed those breaks to win. Now into the third round, he'll play Spaniard Fernando Verdasco, who took out Chilean Paul Capdeville 6-4, 6-2, 7-5. Verdasco earlier upset 12th seed Tim Henman in straight sets.

Max Mirnyi (30), better known as "The Beast" for his height and serve and volley game, reached the third round with a four set win over Florent Serra 7-6 (5), 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-6 (4). He'll next face Finn Jarkko Nieminen, who defeated Bjorn Phau 6-2, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4. This was the part of the section where fifth seed Marat Safin dropped out with a sore left knee. So, it's wide open.

Other matches were still ongoing. Top seed Roger Federer battles Frenchman Fabrice Santoro in second round action later tonight.


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