MELBOURNE, Australia -- Venus Williams lost to Alicia Molik
of Australia 7-5, 7-6 (3) Monday in the fourth round of the
Australian Open, extending her Grand Slam drought and keeping her
from joining sister Serena in the quarterfinals.
Williams was seeking her fifth Grand Slam title and first since
winning the 2001 U.S. Open. She reached five finals after that, but
hasn't made it past the quarterfinals of a major since injuring an
abdominal muscle in mid-2003.
Molik, the Olympic bronze medalist last year in Athens, will
face No. 1 seed and 2000 champion Lindsay Davenport, who polished
off Karolina Sprem 6-2, 6-2 earlier Monday. It's the first time
that Molik, who stretched her winning streak to 12 matches, has
reached the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam.
"This is a huge feat, I beat Venus," Molik said. "I beat her
playing my tennis, and I didn't wait for her to make mistakes, and
that's something I can be pretty proud of."
She broke the eighth-seeded Williams at love to finish off the
first set, then fought off five break points in the second.
Both players held to force a tiebreaker, where Molik showed her
best, jumping to a 4-0 lead, then falling again on a running
forehand that she netted. She shook it off and finished off the
match when Williams weakly hit a forehand into the net.
Molik refused to wilt under Williams' power attack, firing seven
aces and other winners that kissed the lines.
"I couldn't quite get a handle on what was going wrong,"
Williams said. "Normally if I'm playing 5 percent better, I'd
Molik became the first Australian woman to reach the quarters
since Anne Minter 17 years ago.
Davenport breezed into the women's
quarterfinals without any major problems, but third-seeded
Anastasia Myskina, the French Open champion, and fellow Russian
Elena Dementieva, the losing finalist at the French and U.S. Opens,
Davenport needed just an hour to beat No. 13 Karolina Sprem 6-2,
6-2. Sprem held serve only once in each set, while Davenport
converted six of her 10 breakpoint opportunities.
No. 1 Davenport, looking for her first Grand Slam title
in five years will play either former world No. 1
Venus Williams or Alicia Molik, the 10th seed from Australia.
Myskina sprayed forehands wide and long, and finished with 45
unforced errors, losing 6-4, 6-2 to 19th-seeded Nathalie Dechy.
She was so concerned about her faltering forehand in the second
set that she ran around to hit a double-fisted backhand on a net
approach to get one break of serve back.
She shanked a forehand to give Dechy match point and dumped
another into the net to finish it.
"I couldn't focus during the match, I lost a lot of easy
balls," Myskina said. "I think I have to forget this match."
Dementieva led 12th-seeded Patty Schnyder by a set and two
breaks before losing 6-7 (6), 7-6 (4), 6-2.
Dementieva had 61 of the 116 unforced errors in her match. She
saved a match point with a convincing forehand winner but then gave
Schnyder another with a double fault and lost the match when she
dumped a forehand into the net.
"I had such bad luck -- I was 4-0, 30-love and didn't take my
chances. That changed the match," she said. "She started to play
well, I just lost my rhythm, thought 'it's already over' -- I don't
know how I did it."
Schnyder was a surprise semifinalist here last year, beating
three seeded players in straight sets before losing to eventual
runner-up Kim Clijsters in the next-to-last round.
Information from The Associated Press and Reuters was used in this report.