Photo: Eisele/Giubilo/ZimmerSerena Williams (USA)
LONDON, GREAT BRITAIN: Serena Williams has established herself as the favourite to win the women’s singles gold medal after yet another devastating performance to reach the quarterfinals of the Olympic Tennis Event. The No. 4 seed hammered Russia’s Vera Zvonareva 61 60 in 51 minutes on Centre Court today.
Just a few weeks after she sealed her fifth Wimbledon title on the same grass courts at The All England Club, Williams has continued where she left off by winning her opening three matches in straight sets for the loss of just 10 games. The American’s heavy and consistent serve has been the key to her success of late, having dropped it just once in the tournament so far.
There was mixed fortunes in the Williams family, however, as elder sister Venus bowed out in the third round at the hands of Angelique Kerber 76(5) 76(5). The German advances to meet world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka after the Belarusian defeated Nadia Petrova 76(6) 64. Kerber and Azarenka are in the top half of the draw with Serena, who plays Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki in the last eight. Wozniacki overcame Daniela Hantuchova 64 62 on Wednesday.
In the bottom half of the draw, Kim Clijsters continued her impressive run by claiming a 63 64 win over former world No. 1 Ana Ivanovic. That victory has set up a blockbuster quarterfinal for the Belgian against reigning Roland Garros champion Maria Sharapova. The Russian came from a set down in her third round match versus Sabine Lisicki, winning 67(8) 64 63 in 2 hours 47 minutes.
After a pair of three-set wins in the opening rounds, last year’s Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova hit top form on Wednesday during her 63 60 demolition of Flavia Pennetta. The Czech left-hander takes on Maria Kirilenko in the quarterfinals, following the Russian’s 76(5) 63 triumph against Julia Goerges.
In the men’s event, Lleyton Hewitt produced a fantastic performance to push Novak Djokovic, the bronze medallist in Beijing, to three sets, the Serb eventually winning 46 75 61. Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who defeated Feliciano Lopez 76(5) 64, is next up for the world No. 2.
Andy Murray was also stretched as he came from a set down to beat Marcos Baghdatis 46 61 64 in a repeat of their Wimbledon clash from a few weeks ago. The British No. 1 takes on Nicolas Almagro in the quarterfinals, after the Spaniard ended Steve Darcis’s run at the third round stage 75 63.
World No. 1 Roger Federer wasn’t at his brilliant best on Wednesday, but the Swiss top seed still knocked out Denis Istomin 75 63 to reach the last eight. Big serving American John Isner, who now faces Federer, defeated Janko Tipsarevic 75 76(14) in his third round match that will be remembered for the second set tiebreak lasting 30 points.
Juan Martin del Potro and Kei Nishikori complete the quarterfinal line-up in the top half. The Argentine needed three sets to beat Gilles Simon 61 46 63, while the Japanese star outlasted No. 4 seed David Ferrer 60 36 64. Their match was stopped for bad light at 5-4 in the third set and, rather than coming back tomorrow, was moved under the roof on Centre Court where Ferrer promptly lost his serve to hand Nishikori victory.
History was made at the Olympics today when the mixed doubles got under way, signalling the first time a mixed doubles tennis event has been held as a full medal sport for 88 years. The doubles also continued as the quarterfinal line-up was completed, while women's No. 1 seeds Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond became the first pair to reach the last four.
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