Online edition of India's National Newspaper
Sunday, Jun 29, 2008
ePaper | Mobile/PDA Version
Front Page |
Tamil Nadu |
Andhra Pradesh |
New Delhi |
Other States |
Advts: Retail Plus | Classifieds | Jobs | Obituary |
London: The source of Samson’s strength was on his head. For Venus Williams at Wimbledon, it is under her feet.
If Samson’s power came from his hair, then the lovingly nurtured and carefully manicured blades of grass at the All England Lawn Tennis Club seem to transform Venus into a world beater almost magically, no matter the circumstances, no matter how unflattering her track record leading up to the championships might be.
The moment she walks in through the Fred Perry gates, suddenly the weight of all burdens are lifted off her shoulders, her supermodel legs carry her with a gazelle-like grace on the turf and the racquet seems an extension of her hand.
On Saturday, in the 122nd championships, Venus, the defending champion and seventh seed, clearly suggested in the course of her 6-1, 7-5 third round victory over Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez of Spain that it would take a brave and supremely talented opponent to stop her from lifting the trophy that matters for the fifth time next Saturday.
Surely, the ones that religiously enter tournaments week after week and toil hard with an eye on the rankings must be looking at Venus with not-a-little envy.Higher ranking
Last year, Venus came in here world ranked No. 31, surprised the likes of Maria Sharapova and Ana Ivanovic — who play week after week after week and take care of their rankings — before beating Marion Bartoli of France in the final.
Although her ranking is much higher a year on, Venus is yet to win a title in 2008, coming into the tournament with a win-loss record of 14-7.
But now that she has sailed into the second week, who will want to bet against the defending champion?Domination
In the last three decades, only two other women have been as dominant at Wimbledon — Martina Navratilova and Steffi Graf. But, as good as these two were, they did not have the raw athleticism and awesome serving power of Venus.
Of course, as a serve-and-volleyer, Martina was in a class of her own and Steffi was a much better all-round player and champion than Venus will ever be.
But in an era when there is not a single player in Martina’s or Steffi’s class, Venus stands out as a great grass court champion. She is 28 and nobody knows how long she would go on.
But so long as she is fit and still playing here, she will continue to be a major contender for the Venus Rosewater dish, a 50-guineas trophy made in 1864 by P.K. Elkington and Co. in Birmingham.
Against Martinez Sanchez, the Spaniard who had beaten Sania Mirza in the previous round, Venus raced to a perfect 5-0 start before her talented left-handed opponent changed gears and tactics to make a match of it.
Mixing things up well and staying aggressive all the time, Martinez Sanchez, down an early break in the second set, fought back to level terms at 4-4 and held serve to 5-4 to give herself a chance.
But Venus was in no mood for any sort of climactic drama. She broke to 6-5 and then served out the match with a 127mph ace — her 11th in the match — down the middle.
“The first set was pretty clean. [In] the second set, she changed her strategy and started playing better, played aggressive to get back the break. I had some good answers,” said Venus.Glittering array
On the Centre Court — where the Royal Box had a glittering array of sports superstars including Sachin Tendulkar — Jelena Jankovic of Serbia, seeded two, had the right answers too after being outplayed in the first set by Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark.
For a while it did appear that the last of the high profile Serbians would fail to survive the first week.
But in a match where the contest came down to who would make one less unforced error, it was Jankovic who skilfully winnowed out the errors and went through to the fourth round — this, despite a left knee sprain that required on-court attention early in the third set.
“Late in the first set, when I turned, I hurt my left knee. I don’t know how bad it is. I have to wait and see,” said Jankovic following her 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 victory.Sania-Bethanie move up
In the women’s doubles event, Sania Mirza and her American partner Bethanie Mattek played superb tennis to get past Maria Kirilenko of Russia and Flavia Pennetta of Italy 6-3, 6-4 in the second round.
In the mixed doubles event, India’s Rohan Bopanna, playing with Tatiana Poutchek of Belarus, went down 3-6, 6-7 against Simon Aspelin of Sweden and Lisa Raymond of the United States in the second round.Zheng stuns Ivanovic
On Friday, China’s Jie Zheng, world ranked 133, pulled off one of the most stunning upsets in the history of the Wimbledon championships. She outplayed the World No. 1 and top seed, Ana Ivanovic, 6-1, 6-4 in the third round.
With the Beijing Olympics just a few weeks away, China could not have asked for anything better.
The Net Cord Woman — Ivanovic famously survived a second round scare against Nathalie Dechy of France when her forehand on matchpoint dribbled off the tape and spun in — was well and truly netted by the gutsy Chinese journeywoman.
“This is a big surprise for me. She is the world No.1 and I wanted to play well,” said Zheng.
Prefix denotes seeding
Men’s singles: Third round: Rainer Schuettler (Ger) bt Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (Esp) 6-2, 6-3, 6-4;
Women’s singles: Third round: 2-Jelena Jankovic (Srb) bt 31-Caroline Wozniacki (Den) 2-6, 6-4, 6-2; Tamarine Tanasugarn (Tha) bt Marina Erakovic (NZ) 4-6, 6-4, 6-4; 7-Venus Williams (USA) bt Maria Martinez Sanchez (Esp) 6-1, 7-5; 5-Elena Dementieva (Rus) bt Gisela Dulko (Arg) 7-6(2), 7-5; Alisa Kleybanova (Rus) bt Ai Sugiyama (Jpn) 6-4, 6-4.
Men’s singles: Third round: Marat Safin (Rus) bt 29-Andreas Seppi (Ita) 7-6(5), 3-6, 7-6(3), 6-4; Mario Ancic (Cro) bt 5-David Ferrer (Esp) 6-4, 6-4, 6-7(5), 7-6(3); 31-Feliciano Lopez (Esp) bt Bobby Reynolds (USA) 6-4, 7-5, 4-6, 6-4; 10-Marcos Baghdatis (Cyps) bt Simon Stadler (Ger) 7-6(2), 6-4, 6-2; 13-Stanislas Wawrinka (Sui) bt Mischa Zverev (Ger) 7-5, 6-1, retd.; 22-Fernando Verdasco (Esp) bt 11-Tomas Berdych (Cze) 6-4, 6-4, 6-0.
Women’s singles: Third round: 14-Agnieszka Radwanska (Pol) bt Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (Rus) 6-3, 6-2; Bethanie Mattek (USA) bt 11-Marion Bartoli (Fra) 6-4, 6-1; 15-Agnes Szavay (Hun) bt Anabel Medina Garrigues (Esp) 7-6(5), 2-6, 6-2; Zheng Jie (Chn) bt 1-Ana Ivanovic (Srb) 6-1, 6-4; 6-Serena Williams (USA) bt 29-Amelie Mauresmo (Fra) 7-6(5), 6-1.
Mixed doubles: First round: Rohan Bopanna (Ind) & Tatiana Poutchek (Blr) bt Igor Kunitsyn & Elena Vesnina (Rus) 6-4, 2-6, 6-4.
Front Page |
Tamil Nadu |
Andhra Pradesh |
New Delhi |
Other States |
The Hindu Group: Home | About Us | Copyright | Archives | Contacts | Subscription
Group Sites: The Hindu | The Hindu ePaper | Business Line | Business Line ePaper | Sportstar | Frontline | Publications | eBooks | Images | Home |
Copyright © 2008, The
Hindu. Republication or redissemination of the contents of
this screen are expressly prohibited without the written consent of