Venus Williams rallies to win | AspenTimes.com

Venus Williams rallies to win

Steven Wine
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
Venus Williams reacts on her way to defeating Japan's Akiko Morigami in their Women's Singles match at Wimbledon, Monday July 2, 2007.(AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth) ** EDITORIAL USE ONLY **
AP | AP

WIMBLEDON, England ” Venus Williams faced 23 break points, double-faulted 14 times, trailed 3-5 in the third set and still managed to advance Monday at Wimbledon.

The three-time champion rallied past Akiko Morigami 6-2, 3-6, 7-5 in a third-round match suspended Saturday.

Williams will next face 2004 champion Maria Sharapova, one of only two players to win Saturday in a rain-abbreviated schedule. Williams trailed 1-4 in the second set when her match was halted.

Top-ranked Justin Henin, seeking the only Grand Slam title she has yet to win, became the first woman to reach the quarterfinals by beating No. 15-seeded Patty Schnyder in 56 minutes, 6-2, 6-2.

“I was a little bit surprised that the match was that quick,” Henin said. “I was ready to have a good fight.”

Henin has lost 15 games in four rounds.

“I did my job perfectly until now,” she said.

In the completion of third-round matches suspended Saturday, No. 5-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova beat Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2, 6-3; No. 6 Ana Ivanovic defeated Aravane Rezai 6-3, 6-2; No. 11 Nadia Petrova swept Virginia Ruano Pascual 6-3, 7-6 (3); No. 12 Elena Dementieva lost to 16-year-old Tamira Paszek of Austria 3-6, 6-2, 6-3; and No. 14 Nicole Vaidisova beat Victoria Azarenka 6-4, 6-2.

In men’s third-round play, No. 7 Tomas Berdych beat Lee Hyung-taik 6-4, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (3).

The start of play was delayed nearly an hour by showers ” the sixth time in seven days there has been a rain interruption.

Only three players had Monday off ” Sharapova, defending champion Amelie Mauresmo and Roger Federer. The four-time defending men’s champion received a bye into the quarterfinals when his fourth-round opponent, Tommy Haas, pulled out with a stomach muscle injury.

Williams, seeded 23rd, struggled with her serve in windy weather and double-faulted for the final time to fall behind 3-5 in the last set. Morigami then lost serve at love, and Williams hit four big serves to hold for 5-all.

With Williams serving for the match at 6-5, rain began to fall and umbrellas popped out in the stands, but play continued. Williams erased two break points ” making Morigami 4-for-23 on break points ” and closed out the victory on the first match point with a service winner.

The court was then covered for another delay.

When the match resumed in the second set Monday, Williams lost the first seven points. She double-faulted four times serving at 2-5 but still managed to hold, then double-faulted four more times in her next service game.

Morigami needed 10 set points to even the match, finally forcing a third set when Williams hit a forehand wide.

Mauresmo keeps moving forward, and her aggressive game has her in the fourth round.

“I think it comes pretty naturally for me,” the Frenchwoman said. “I don’t feel like somebody’s pushing me to go forward. It’s a little bit the contrary: I really feel that I’m really leaning forward very naturally after the serve and sometimes on the return.”

In an era when most women swing hard from the baseline, Mauresmo’s tactic makes her a throwback. But it also makes her a formidable foe, especially on grass, where she often solves the vexing problem of capricious hops by charging forward to hit the ball before it bounces.

“I like it,” she said. “It took me a little time to adjust to the grass. I was not really sure what I was going to do. Do I need to stay back? Do I need to go in? I was kind of in between.

“Then I got used to it, and the experience probably helped me a lot.”

Mauresmo turns 28 Thursday, which makes her the oldest player among the top women’s title contenders. She remains prone to nervousness, especially at the French Open, where she lost in the third round this year.

But as a two-time Grand Slam champion, Mauresmo also knows how to win the kind of big matches that loom this week.

“It’s still pretty open, this women’s championship,” she said. “But, you know, it has been open for quite a few years now ” not only here but in all Grand Slams.

“I’m not thinking, ‘Oh, am I going to be able to go to the end?’ In my mind, I’m confident about how I play, and about what I’m going to have to do in the next match.”


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