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September 22, 2000
Venus, Arantxa to clash in quartersLarry Fine
American Venus Williams advanced to the Olympic tennis quarter-finals on Friday by posting her 29th successive victory to set up a showdown with the last player to defeat her -- Arantxa Sanchez Vicario of Spain.
Williams, whose wondrous winning streak includes triumphant runs at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, defeated Jana Kandarr of Germany 6-2, 6-2 in the third round.
Sanchez Vicario dismissed Fabiola Zuluaga of Colombia 6-2, 6-0.
Sanchez Vicario, silver medallist at the 1996 Games, owns the last victory over the all-conquering Williams, a 6-0, 1-6, 6-2 success in the quarter-finals of the French Open four months ago.
"Beating Williams is very difficult but those are the kind of matches we are waiting for, playing against the best," said Sanchez Vicario, a former U.S. Open and triple French Open champion.
Williams, who has dropped just 13 games in her first three Olympic matches, knows the level of competition will improve.
"I'm in the quarter-finals now," the 20-year-old Williams said. "It's a little more serious from here."
With sisters Lyndrea and Serena, her doubles partner here, and mother Oracene chanting "U-S-A" from the stands -- one section away from onlookers Chelsea Clinton and Bill Gates -- the second-seeded Williams took apart Kandarr's service game.
The German held serve only once in the 52-minute match.
Williams leads the head-to-head series with Sanchez Vicario 4-3, but the Spaniard has some wins that might give her a confidence boost. The 28-year-old veteran handed Williams her first defeat as a pro in Oakland in 1994, and also beat her in a Sydney hard court final in 1998.
Still, Williams is unruffled by the prospects of facing Sanchez Vicario, one of the game's greatest battlers. "I only have to play my game. When I'm aggressive and play my game, I usually win," she said with a smile.
Men's doubles provided an early upset on Friday as the second-seeded U.S. pair of Alex O'Brien and Jared Palmer fell 6-2, 6-4 in the second round to Mark Knowles and Mark Merklein of the Bahamas.
O'Brien was devastated by the defeat.
"I don't think I've felt worse in my entire career," said O'Brien, who was ranked number one in doubles earlier this year, as was Palmer. "I might break every one of my racquets in the parking lot and throw them in the river."
Fabrice Santoro of France, who ousted top-seeded U.S. Open champion Marat Safin of Russia in the opening round, advanced to the third round with a 6-1 ,6-7 (2-7), 7-5 victory against Spain's Fernando Vicente.
Other men's advancers included Roger Federer of Switzerland, a 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) winner against Karol Kucera of Slovakia, and Sweden's Mikael Tillstrom, who eliminated Canadian Sebastien Lareau 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.
Federer and Tillstrom will meet in the third round.
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