Sunday, September 04, 2005

Venus Shows Serena Who's Boss

In an intriguing sister Round of 16 battle, Wimbledon champion Venus Williams (10) was too much for little sister Serena (8) 7-6 (5), 6-2, advancing to a quarterfinal showdown with Kim Clijsters (4), who later disposed of Venezuelan Maria Vento-Kabchi 6-0, 6-1.

Serena had won their previous five slam encounters (all finals) but Sunday in front of a packed Ashe house, Venus was the better player. Quicker to more balls, she was sharper and took control of the match after a tight first set that lasted almost an hour.

With both tight early, they each had chances to break in the opening first two games. Serena fought off triple break point winning the final five to claim the first game. Then Venus repelled a couple of break chances in the second game. The first set stayed on serve until the seventh game when Venus broke through with some thunderous shots to lead 4-3. After Serena fought off set point 3-5 down, she got the break back when big sis tossed in two double faults and two unforced errors.

With Venus' game falling off, she was forced to save a set point trailing 5-6 before pushing it to a tiebreaker. In it, they exchanged early minibreaks before Venus took control at five all putting away a forehand volley. With Serena serving to stay in the set, Venus moved her around finally drawing an errant backhand into the net to claim the set. Serena talked to herself afterwards and angrily spiked her racket in frustration.

The second set wouldn't be any kinder to Serena. She struggled with her movement and was broken again early. When Venus held for 5-2, she was a game away. Ending any doubt, she broke her sister for the third time in 13 chances to claim the victory. It concluded badly for Serena, pulling up on the last two points favoring her left leg. Not able to push off on match point, she dumped a forehand into the net.

As they met at the net, neither smiled and just embraced with Venus whispering something in Serena's ear. Both knew it wasn't their best tennis as the 29 unforced errors for Venus to Serena's 30 attest. Both also won less than 40 percent on their second serves. Venus finished with two more winners- Venus-19 Serena-17.

"I don't think I played my best today at all," said Serena after the match. "I don't think Venus did, either."

It summed up an awkward match.

In other fourth round matches, top seed Maria Sharapova made quick work of India native Sania Mirza 6-2, 6-1. Mirza hit the ball well but struggled on serve where Sharapova converted five of 13 chances. The difference was the 18-year-old Russian saved four of five on her own serve. She'll next face Nadia Petrova (9), who eliminated 16-year-old Czech Nicole Vaidisova (26) 7-6 (4), 7-5. Vaidisova blew a 5-2 first set lead and showed her frustration when she lost the tiebreak, tossing a bottle and slamming her racket. When she missed a forehand long on match point, the moody Czech slammed a ball into the stands in frustration.

Women's Round of 16 matches continue tomorrow on Labor Day with Justine Henin-Hardenne (7) battling Mary Pierce (12), Amelie Mauresmo (3) taking on Elena Likhovtseva (19), Elena Dementieva (6) facing Patty Schnyder (11) and Lindsay Davenport (2) against Nathalie Dechy (15).


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7:14 PM  

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