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01 Jul 2008 08:15
Jelena Jankovic and Svetlana Kuznetsova joined the Wimbledon scrapheap on Monday when the second week began with more shocks and the Williams sisters steaming headlong towards a third family final.
Serbia’s Jankovic, the second seed, huffed and puffed against Thai surprise Tamarine Tanasugarn, losing 6-3 6-2 before launching a verbal volley at the All England Club schedulers who sent her to Court 18 at high noon.
Kuznetsova, the fourth seed and one of six Russians to reach the last 16, was bundled out by Poland’s former Wimbledon junior champion, Agnieszka Radwanska, 6-4 1-6 7-5.
For the first time since seedings began at Wimbledon in 1927 not one of the top four women have reached the last eight after top seed Ana Ivanovic and third seed Maria Sharapova had their hopes trampled into the Wimbledon turf last week by players ranked in the 100s.
“I was almost playing in the parking lot. I almost needed a helicopter to go to my court,” the normally happy-go-lucky Jankovic, who needed injections in her sore left knee before her match on the snug Court 18, told reporters.
Tamarine’s response to reaching her first Grand Slam quarterfinal at the age of 31 and becoming the first Thai to achieve the feat was a joyous “Wow, wow, wow!”
At least the seeding committee can rely on the Williams sisters and men’s one and two Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal not to fluff their lines, while Andy Murray’s extraordinary fightback to beat Richard Gasquet in five sets sent fans away dreaming of a first home men’s champion for more than 70 years.
Frenchman Gasquet served for the match at 5-4 in the third set but an inspired Murray roared back to win 5-7 3-6 7-6 6-2 6-4 in near darkness.
Venus Williams, seeded seventh this year, continued to pick her way through the carnage with few alarms with a 6-3 6-4 defeat of Russian teenager Alisa Kleybanova.
With Tamarine next in her sights, a seventh Wimbledon singles final is looming on the Venus horizon and sister Serena looks a safe bet to be on the other side of the net after she followed her older sibling on to Court Two to despatch Bethanie Mattek 6-3 6-3.
Like Jankovic, Venus and Serena were clearly unhappy with the court schedulers after being sent to the “Graveyard of Champions” as Court two is known.
“Initially I thought, OK, is this the right schedule? I thought maybe there was a mistake,” Serena, who beat her sister in the 2002 and 2003 finals, said.
Federer was imperious against Australia’s lone ranger, Lleyton Hewitt, the last man to win the title here before Federer embarked on his five-year domination of the tournament.
Hewitt battled hard in the opening set but quickly succumbed to a 12th consecutive defeat by Federer as the Swiss maestro won 7-6 6-2 6-4 to reach the quarterfinals without losing a set.
The world number one now faces unseeded Croat Mario Ancic, the last man to beat Federer at Wimbledon, back in 2002.
Ancic won 3-6 4-6 6-3 6-4 13-11 against Spain’s Fernando Verdasco.
“I completely under-estimated him back in 2002,” Federer said of his re-match with Ancic.
Nadal needed treatment on his knee after a stumble in the second game of his fourth round against Mikhail Youzhny, but any hope the Russian had of springing a surprise was short-lived and he was overwhelmed 6-3 6-3 6-1.
Feliciano Lopez made sure Spain’s feel-good factor after their country’s Euro 2008 triumph continued. He joined compatriot Nadal in the last eight after a 5-7 6-2 3-6 7-6 8-6 defeat of Marcos Baghdatis.
Lopez now plays enigmatic Russian Marat Safin, who reached the quarterfinal for the second time with a four-set defeat of Swiss number two Stanislas Wawrinka.
There were mixed fortunes for the women’s giant killers.
Wildcard Zheng Jie, who ended Ivanovic’s tournament in round three, backed up that performance with a solid 6-3 6-4 defeat of Hungary’s Agnes Szavay to become only the second woman from China to reach the last eight at Wimbledon, where she will face Czech Nicole Vaidisova.
Alla Kudryavtseva, the Russian who beat Sharapova in the second round and then criticised her dress sense, was beaten by compatriot Nadia Petrova.—Reuters
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