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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

WIMBLEDON, Packing a punch


Packing a punch

Venus serves thunderbolts to end Tamarine's dream run in quarters

Defending champion Venus Williams moved a step closer to her fifth Wimbledon singles title yesterday, beating Tamarine Tanasugarn in straight sets to reach the semi-finals and close in on another potential championship match-up with sister Serena.

Williams downed the 31-year-old Tamarine 6-4 6-3 on Court 1 to extend her career record over the Thai player

to 7-0.

The seventh-seeded American, who has not dropped a set all tournament, was limping slightly at the end of the match with a hamstring problem.

Feeling a little pain

"It feels a little bit tight," she said. "I'll be fine. I'm a big girl. I can deal with it."

The Williams sisters are in opposite halves of the draw and could meet in Saturday's final. The two have been twice before in the Wimbledon final, with Serena winning both in 2003 and '04.

"That would be amazing if we both were in the final," Venus said. "I have to take it one more step and keep playing power tennis."

The 60th-ranked Tamarine, playing in her first Grand Slam quarter-final, pushed Williams as hard as she could but did not have enough energy to cope with her power game.

Williams served eight aces and had one serve at 204kph, while Tamarine had no aces and had an average first-serve speed of just 145kph.

Tamarine fashioned 10 break points, but converted only once. The key game was the sixth of the first set, when Williams saved six break points - mostly on Tamarine errors - and finished with a 203kph service winner to hold for 4-2.

With top seed Ana Ivanovic and No 3 Maria Sharapova eliminated last week, none of the top four seeded women reached the quarter-finals - the first time that has happened at Wimbledon and also the first time at any Grand Slam tournament in the 40-year history of the Open era.

The men's quarter-finals are set for today, with five-time champion Roger Federer and two-time runner-up Rafael Nadal seemingly headed toward a third straight championship showdown.

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