Serena downs Sharapova. Federer, Venus advance


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Serena downs Sharapova
Federer, Venus advance, Jankovic pulls out

London, June 28

Defending champion Serena Williams ensured there was no repeat result from the 2004 final when she beat Maria Sharapova 7-6 6-4 in a tense fourth-round contest at Wimbledon today.

The two went toe-to-toe under the blazing sunshine on Centre Court, and Sharapova, the 16th seed, will rue the chances she missed leading 6-4 in the opening set tiebreak.

A quick break of serve at the start of the second gave the American top seed the momentum, and the three-times champion wrapped up the victory when Sharapova sprayed a running backhand wide after an hour and 36 minutes.

Six-times champion Roger Federer showed a ruthless streak against one of his best friends on tour when he destroyed Austrian Jurgen Melzer 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 for a place in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon today. Federer, who had never faced Melzer at senior level before, produced his full array of wonderful touches and rock-solid serving on Centre Court in sharp contrast to his stuttering performances in the opening two rounds.

Melzer recovered from 3-0 down in the opener by breaking the Swiss serve, but it was to be his only success as Federer swept through in an hour and 24 minutes. However, it wasn’t as smooth a ride for five-times champion Venus Williams, as she had to fight long and hard in blazing sunshine before taking her place in the Wimbledon quarterfinals with a 6-4, 7-6 win over Australia’s Jarmila Groth. Her father Richard, full of admiration for his daughter’s grit and determination, said, “She had to play like a hell-cat to pull that one off.”

Richard clearly felt a higher power was needed to steer Venus through. Sporting a “Jehovah My God” baseball cap, he kept shouting “Turn it up V” as the ding-dong battle got more and more intense in an intriguing second set. Her Slovak-born opponent, ranked 92 in the world, refused to be overawed by the woman who had won more grass court titles than any other player on the circuit. Groth served for the set at 5-4 and 6-5 but on each occasion Venus thwarted her, and she did well to recover from 4-0 down in the tiebreak before going down 7-5 when the Australian netted a mid-court forehand after an hour and 37 minutes.

But the first big name to tumble out of the championships was former world number one and fourth seed Jelena as she pulled out of her clash with Russian 21st seed Vera Zvonareva. Jankovic, who has now fallen at the fourth round here four times in five years, was 6-1, 3-0 down when she withdrew.

In another match, Kim Clijsters won the battle of the Belgians when she beat Justine Henin 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 for a place in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon. Clijsters, who last played here in 2006 when she lost to Henin in the semi-finals, edged a close battle against her compatriot, who suffered a fall in the opening set and appeared to damage her right wrist. Henin, whose usual fearsome baseline game let her down, had no answer as the eighth seed wrapped up the win when her opponent netted a forehand return. — Reuters