on July 1, 2009 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

Few thrills as Williams sisters thrive

LONDON (Reuters) – Sobriety returned to Wimbledon on Tuesday after the heady brew of the night before with Center Court open to the sunny skies and the insatiable Williams sisters blasting through to the semi-finals.

British hope Andy Murray’s intoxicating five-set defeat of Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka on Monday, a thrilling match which ended way after sunset under Center Court’s gleaming roof and blazing lights, raised excitement levels far beyond the reach of women’s quarter-final day.

Murray’s four-hour epic was played out in an adrenaline-fueled Davis Cup style atmosphere but polite applause was the order of the day as first champion Venus Williams, 29, romped to a 6-1 6-2 defeat of Pole Agnieszka Radwanska and then Serena powered past Victoria Azarenka of Belarus 6-2 6-3.

Neither have dropped a set in the tournament so far — they even won a women’s doubles 6-0 6-0 on Monday — as they career headlong toward a seemingly inevitable fourth meeting in a Wimbledon final on Saturday.

“That first set for me was really almost perfect,” Venus, who is chasing a hat-trick of singles title here and her sixth overall, told reporters of her match against former Wimbledon junior champion Radwanska on Court One.

“Do I feel invincible? I’d like to say yes, but I really do work at it.”

Asked if she and Serena were now head and shoulders above the rest, Venus did not exactly dismiss the suggestion.

“I think we are definitely the frontrunners in tennis as far as being some of the best players out there,” she said. “But if there were just two players, it would just be a final. There’s got to be 128. So that’s the way it’s got to be.”

At least Elena Dementieva, the graceful Russian fourth seed, is doing her best to keep up with the Americans.

The 27-year-old performed a Williams-type demolition job on diminutive Italian Francesca Schiavone, winning 6-2 6-2 on Court One where fans who forked out for expensive tickets received just two hours and 14 minutes of singles action.

With Serena needing little more than an hour to polish off Azarenka it meant Murray and Wawrinka’s fourth-round duel lasted longer than three of the women’s quarter-finals put together.

She refuted a suggestion that fans were being short-changed by one-sided women’s matches but said maybe they should play best of five sets — a scenario that would strike fear into most who face them across the net.

“Yeah, I’m ready for five-set matches. On grass it would be fine. I can definitely play five sets,” she said.

World number one Dinara Safina and unseeded German Sabine Lisicki did provide a contest worthy of the name with the Muscovite wearing down her opponent 6-7 6-4 6-1 on Center Court.

Safina now stands between Venus and an eighth Wimbledon singles final when they meet for the first time on a grasscourt in the last four.

“Definitely this is her best surface,” Safina, who is still without a grand slam title, told reporters. “She loves playing here in Wimbledon. I know her weapons. I have my weapons. So I just want to go out there, play my best, and let’s see.”

After a drowsy Tuesday in London’s heatwave, Wednesday’s men’s quarter-finals should raise the volume and the pulse-rate again as Murray, fighting tooth and nail to keep his Wimbledon dream alive, continues his quest against Juan Carlos Ferrero.

The Scot moaned about the sweaty conditions but with 15,000 on court, thousands more watching in the sprawling grounds and millions glued to the their televisions at home, tournament organizers would be happy for another well-timed rain shower to enable them to hit the button.

“The only danger to the roof was that it could have been blown off by the crowds,” club spokesman Johnny Perkins said of the previous night’s events which have already gone down in Wimbledon folklore.

Pity the women could not follow suit.

(Editing by Miles Evans)