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Venus, Serena, Lindsay Head to Quarters

June 30, 2003

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) _ Venus Williams avenged her French Open defeat and advanced to the Wimbledon quarterfinals for the sixth consecutive year by beating Vera Zvonareva 6-1, 6-3 Monday.

Williams was upset by Zvonareva four weeks ago in the fourth round at Paris, her earliest exit at a Grand Slam event in two years.

But that was on clay, with Williams slowed by an abdominal strain. On her favorite surface _ Wimbledon’s grass _ the two-time champion was a much more confident, aggressive opponent.

``The circumstances were different,″ said Williams, who raced to a 5-0 lead and won in 59 minutes. ``Last time she was the better player. This time it was nice I was able to win.″

Advancing in rapid succession along with the No. 4-seeded Williams were defending champion Serena Williams, No. 2-seeded Kim Clijsters, No. 5 Lindsay Davenport and No. 8 Jennifer Capriati. The five winners swept every set and lost a total of 23 games, fodder for the argument that women’s tennis lacks depth.

``The top players are playing well right now,″ Davenport said.

There will be two all-American quarterfinals Tuesday _ Capriati vs. Serena Williams and Davenport vs. Venus Williams.

Serena Williams, seeded No. 1, won 16 of the first 18 points and beat No. 15 Elena Dementieva 6-2, 6-2 in 50 minutes.

Clijsters worked even faster, eliminating No. 13 Ai Sugiyama 6-3, 6-2 in 49 minutes. The French Open runner-up has lost 12 games in four matches.

``In all of my matches I’ve started really well,″ Clijsters said. ``That’s a great feeling to have. It really helps your confidence.″

Davenport, the 1999 champion, beat unseeded Shinobu Asagoe 6-4, 6-1. Capriati eliminated No. 10 Anastasia Myskina 6-2, 6-3.

Now Capriati will try to break her streak of nine consecutive losses against the Williams sisters, including seven in a row against Serena.

``The last few times I haven’t been able to pull it out,″ Capriati said. ``But I’m going to concentrate on playing the ball and my own game, and not see Serena across the net.″

Davenport has lost five times in a row to Venus Williams.

All 16 fourth-round matches for the men and women were scheduled to be played Monday. With the start of play on the outer courts delayed because of rain, the Williams sisters, Clijsters, Davenport and Capriati found themselves in action at the same time.

``Seems like we all walked in the locker room at the same time,″ Davenport said.

Rain again interrupted play at mid-afternoon with four men’s fourth-round matches under way.

Serena Williams broke a string on her first shot, but little else went wrong for her. She briefly struggled late in the first set, losing six consecutive points, before closing the set with three big serves in a row.

Williams finished with six aces, topping out at 120 mph on her serve, and committed only 10 unforced errors.

``I never really exceed my expectations,″ she said. ``I was just playing pretty good.″

Fifteen minutes after she finished, Williams was joined in the quarterfinals by her older sister. Venus overcame Court 2′s reputation as ``the Graveyard of Champions,″ hitting 25 winners to five for Zvonareva and winning 13 of 16 points at the net.

``I like Court 2,″ Williams said with a smile. ``I’m OK with that.″

Williams won 10 of the first 11 points in the second set. She was slowed only by an erratic forehand, committing seven unforced errors with that shot in a single game.

Still, Williams showed impressive patience to go with her characteristic power. On one point, she hit a deep forehand that sent Zvonareva sprawling to the turf, then finished off the point with a drop shot. Three points later she won an 18-stroke rally, and Zvonareva squealed in frustration.

``To be honest, I would have liked to have played better,″ Williams said. ``I was a little bit off on my game, but it’s impossible to play perfect every match.″

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