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Venus Williams rallies at soggy Wimbledon

Steven Wine
Associated Press
Vail, CO Colorado
Kirsty Wigglesworth/APVenus Williams returns to Japan's Akiko Morigami, during William's victory at Wimbledon, Monday.
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WIMBLEDON, England ” Venus Williams made it to the fourth round at Wimbledon despite a performance so filled with errors she drew criticism from her father.

The three-time champion rallied past Akiko Morigami 6-2, 3-6, 7-5 Monday in a match suspended Saturday. And she did it even though she faced 23 break points, double faulted 14 times and trailed 3-5 in the third set.

Williams will next go against 2004 champion Maria Sharapova, one of only two players to win Saturday in the rain-plagued tournament. Williams trailed 1-4 in the second set when her match was halted, and when it resumed two days later she struggled from the start, losing the first seven points.

“If Venus moves up to the ball and takes it off the bounce instead of waiting behind the baseline, she’ll be the only one here, including Sharapova,” said Williams’ father and coach, Richard. “She’s not going to beat anyone if she’s not moving into the ball.”

Venus saw the match as a positive.

“When it was time, I did what it took. I definitely would like to do what it takes earlier,” she said. “But I think on the other hand, that kind of competition is invaluable in this kind of tournament. So either way it’s good for me.”

Top-ranked Justine 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); and No. 14 Nicole Vaidisova beat Victoria Azarenka 6-4, 6-2.

No. 12 Elena Dementieva lost to 16-year-old Tamira Paszek of Austria 3-6, 6-2, 6-3. Paszek, the runner-up in juniors at Wimbledon in 2005, was thrilled to pull off an upset in her favorite Grand Slam event.

“The strawberries with cream, playing all in white, the grass courts, covering, uncovering the courts, rain delays, rain delays ” just everything is so special,” the teen said.

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, and another delay began in the early afternoon.

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.

“I was coming down too quickly on the second serve,” Williams said. “So I made the correction.”

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 crowd rose to applaud Williams, including her friend, professional golfer Hank Kuehne. The court was then covered for another delay.

In the second set, Williams 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.

“Ask her why she’s behind the baseline 13 feet,” Richard Williams said.

Said Venus: “At times I was too far behind the line, but usually when I was really just on defense. Especially here, if you’re too far, the ball doesn’t come up. I will look forward to moving forward in the next matches.”


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