Hewitt, Venus stay on track


LONDON, AFP

Top seeds Lleyton Hewitt and Venus Williams of the United States stayed on track by advancing to the quarterfinals of the Wimbledon tennis championships here on Monday.

Australian Hewitt outclassed unseeded Russian Mikhail Youzhny 6-3, 6-3, 7-5 in two hours, 13 minutes on Center Court while Venus slayed fellow American Lisa Raymond 6-1, 6-2 over on Court One.

The 21-year-old Hewitt will now face experienced Dutchman and 18th seed Sjeng Schalken of the Netherlands for a place in the semi-finals after he defeated Jan Vacek of the Czech Republic 6-2, 7-5, 7-5.

World number one Venus next meets unseeded Russian Elena Likhovtseva who came away a 6-3, 6-4 winner for the first time in six meetings against Bulgarian 19th seed Magdalena Maleeva.

Venus said she was confident of becoming the first woman since Steffi Graf to win three titles in a row from 1991 to 1993 after moving closer to a possible all-Williams final with younger sister Serena.

“I’m the only person left in the tournament who has won before,” said Williams.

“It’s definitely nice knowing that I’ve won the tournament here and I know what it takes to win.”

The 22-year-old Venus, who is suffering from tendinitis in her left knee, looked keen to wrap up the match after played was delayed by drizzle.

Venus broke serve in the fourth game for a 3-1 lead, winning the first set in 18 minutes.

The second set was more of the same with Venus slamming down five aces and 20 winners compared to just four winners by world number 35 Raymond, the world’s top doubles player.

Younger sister and second seed Serena Williams was due on Center Court later on Monday against another American Chanda Rubin as the sisters bid for their third Grand Slam final together.

Likhovtseva, the world number 48, has achieved her best showing here in nine attempts and equals her previous Grand Slam best of the quarterfinals at the 2000 Australian Open. Venus dismisses Graf’s grasscourt pedigree

Venus Williams said on Monday that seven times Wimbledon singles champion Steffi Graf was not a good grasscourt player.

“I didn’t consider Steffi a grasscourt player. She never really came in and never served and volleyed,” said 22-year-old Williams, who is bidding for her third successive Wimbledon crown this year.

“I don’t think that was exactly grasscourt tennis.” Williams said she thought Belgian qualifier Els Callens — beaten in straight sets by the younger Williams sister Serena in the third round last week — and 1998 All England Club finalist Nathalie Tauziat of France were better players than German Graf on the slick surface.

“I haven’t actually played a grasscourt player,” she said. “Serena played Callens the other day and she’s a good grasscourt player and maybe also Tauziat.”

Asked who she rated as the greatest woman grasscourt player, Williams said: “I don’t know. My memory goes back to 1989 and most of the players that I remember have been baseliners.”