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Venus books date with Sharapova
July 02, 2007 20:32 IST
Venus Williams looked as though she was hurtling towards defeat against a Japanese skiing fan on Monday before fighting back to set up a fourth-round Wimbledon tie against another former champion Maria Sharapova [Images].
Williams was one game away from tumbling out but, as rain began to fall again on the grasscourt tournament, she outsmarted Akiko Morigami 6-2, 3-6, 7-5.
While Williams's two-hour five-minute tussle with Morigami justified Wimbledon's decision to award women equal prize money for the first time this year, Justine Henin [Images] has done little to silence the critics.
The world number one made the most of a short dry spell on Monday to reach the quarter-finals with a 6-2, 6-2 destruction of Patty Schnyder.
The Belgian, who completed a hat-trick of French Open titles last month, has dropped only 15 games during her stroll into the last eight.
"I was a bit surprised the match was so quick," Henin told reporters. "I've done my job perfectly so far."
Fifth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova, number six Ana Ivanovic, Nicole Vaidisova and Nadia Petrova needed to win only a handful of games on Monday to complete their progress into the fourth round.
Russian 12th seed Elena Dementieva, however, was upstaged by a 16-year-old Austrian. Tamira Paszek, the youngest player left in the draw, underlined her growing reputation on the circuit to thwart 25-year-old Dementieva 3-6, 6-2, 6-3.
Venus Williams was two breaks down in the second set when torrential downpours over southwest London [Images] halted play on Saturday.
On resumption her fortunes dipped further when she lost the set after being broken again.
Morigami, the last Asian left in the field, seemed to have won the psychological battle when she came from 0-40 down to hold her serve for 3-2 and was gifted a break three games later thanks to a Williams double fault.
But the three-times former champion clung on to deny Morigami a famous victory and made no secret of what the win meant to her, jumping up and down to celebrate her great escape.
Seventh seed Tomas Berdych ended Asian interest in the men's competition when he squeezed past South Korea's Lee Hyung-taik 6-4, 7-6, 7-6 to reach the last 16.
It was the only men's match to be completed so far on day seven of the grasscourt Grand Slam before rain once again interrupted play.