Updated at 9:20 a.m., Wednesday, July 4, 2007
Tennis: Serena Williams loses, Nadal wins 4-day match
By Chris Lehourites
Although Williams managed to win the middle set, Henin's variety of shots kept the American moving. On Monday, Williams collapsed on the court with a strained left calf during her fourth-round win. She played against Henin on Wednesday with her leg, left wrist and thumb taped.
"Definitely not 100 percent at all," Williams said. "It was probably at 40 or 50 max. If I had been healthy I think I would have won, 100 percent."
Venus Williams advanced to the quarterfinals, dominating 2004 champion Maria Sharapova and winning 6-1, 6-3 in a two-day match that included a nearly two-hour rain delay. Rafael Nadal advanced to the fourth round in the men's draw in a rain-interrupted match that finished four days after he first stepped on court.
The top-ranked Henin said she didn't notice that Serena Williams had trouble moving.
"Maybe a little at the beginning of the match," Henin said. "After that, I think she could run pretty much, especially on the drop shots and everything."
Henin first served for the match at 5-1 in the third set, but several unforced errors and a rejuvenated Serena Williams briefly extended the match.
"I was a bit nervous at the end," said Henin, who is trying to complete a career Grand Slam by winning at the All England Club. "But finally I could finish the match ... and that was really important because who knows what would happen if it was 5-4."
Henin also beat Serena Williams in the quarterfinals at the French Open this year. She went on to win her fourth title at Roland Garros.
In the semifinals, Henin will face No. 18 Marion Bartoli. The 22-year-old Frenchwoman beat No. 31 Michaella Krajicek, the younger sister of 1996 Wimbledon champion Richard Krajicek, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.
Venus Williams wasted seven break points in the third game of the second set against Sharapova, but broke in the seventh and ninth games to advance.
"In my whole life I've been a big-match player," the three-time Wimbledon champion said. "I always believe in my game. I know I have a lot of stuff others players don't have."
Williams had 19 break points in the match, converting four of them. Sharapova failed to even earn a break point, and only pushed Williams to deuce once on the American's serve.
"The serve definitely was a weapon," said Williams, who will face 2004 U.S. Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in the quarterfinals.
After Sharapova sent a forehand into the net on match point, Williams smiled and waved to the crowd while her father, Richard, stood with his arms raised in celebration.
The match started yesterday afternoon, but only three points were played before rain forced suspension. Early in the second set today, Williams and Sharapova had to wait through another rain delay that lasted nearly two hours.
"I don't know if it was the wind or a slow start. She got off to a fast start," Sharapova said. "I just didn't feel really comfortable in the first set."
The rain at Wimbledon this year has caused stoppages and postponements on eight of the tournament's nine days.
Nadal fell to his knees in relief after finally beating Robin Soderling 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (7), 4-6, 7-5. The 2006 Wimbledon runner-up finally won on his sixth match point, the final five coming two days after the first.
"The toughest match maybe (of) my career," Nadal said. "Because the stops always were tougher for me than for him because I was winning."
The match was scheduled to begin Saturday, but the players were pulled off the court during the warmup because of rain. After the traditional middle Sunday off, the match started Monday.
That's when Nadal held a match point in the third-set tiebreaker, but he eventually lost that set and the next one. Play was suspended for the day with Nadal leading 2-0 in the fifth set.
"It's difficult because the match point was out like this," Nadal said, holding his thumb and finger close together. "For me it was tough because I have to defend the advantage."
Yesterday, they returned to the court but played for only 20 minutes until the rain again halted play for the day.
Resuming at 4-4 in the fifth set Wednesday, Nadal held serve in the 11th game saving one break point and then sat down during the changeover as it began to drizzle. While the chair umpire waited to see if the rain would stop, Nadal sat nervously shaking his left leg.
Play continued moments later, and Soderling was able to save four more match points before he sent a backhand long.
The Swede challenged the call as Nadal ran to the net, but the "Hawk-Eye" replay technology showed the ball was out.
Nadal, a three-time French Open champion, then dropped to his knees and later threw his wristbands into the crowd. He'll next play No. 14 Mikhail Youzhny.
No. 4 Novak Djokovic also reached the fourth round in a match that took three days, and No. 3 Andy Roddick advanced to the quarterfinals in an encounter that took two days.
Djokovic beat Nicolas Kiefer 7-6 (4), 6-7 (6), 6-2, 7-6 (5), and will play 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt in the fourth round. Roddick defeated Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-2, 7-5, 7-6 (6). The American trailed 3-0 in the third set and then 5-0 in the tiebreaker before saving three set points and winning the final five points to advance.
"He doesn't have a serve where he's going to hit aces the whole time, so I never felt like I was completely out of it," Roddick said. "I know my serve can go in bunches, two at a time sometimes. So I was just concentrating on trying to get a point each time on his serve."
Roddick will face No. 12 Richard Gasquet in the quarterfinals. Gasquet defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4, 6-3, 6-4.