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Serena advances; Delic wins fifth straight at Sony

3/26/2007 - Tennis

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. -- Three-time champion Serena Williams advanced to a fourth-round showdown Tuesday against top-seeded Maria Sharapova.
In a match delayed a day by rain, Williams beat No. 23 Lucie Safarova 6-3,
6-4.

Williams routed Sharapova for her eighth Grand Slam title in
January at the Australian Open.

"This is a new day, this is a new match," Williams said.
"It's definitely going to be a good match."

Williams said a heckler bothered her throughout the match,
making at least one racist remark before he was ejected.

"The guy said, 'Hit the net like any Negro would,'" Williams
said. "Every time I missed a shot or a serve, he would say,
'That's the way to do it."'

Tournament officials confirmed Williams was heckled
inappropriately, and the man was escorted off the site.

Third-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova and No. 4 Kim Clijsters were
eliminated. Defending champion Kuznetsova was beaten by No. 14
Shahar Peer 6-4, 4-6, 6-3. Clijsters, the 2005 champion, lost in
her final appearance at Key Biscayne to No. 15 Li Na, 4-6, 6-4,
6-2.

Clijsters plans to retire this year.

Joining Peer and Li in the quarterfinals was top-ranked Justine
Henin, who beat 18th-seeded Vera Zvonareva 6-3, 6-2 Agnieszka
Radwanska, a 17-year-old who eliminated Martina Hingis on Sunday,
lost to No. 24 Tathiana Garbin 6-4, 6-2.

On the men's side, Amer Delic upset fourth-seeded Nikolay Davydenko 7-6 (5), 6-3 for his fifth win in a row, including two in qualifying.

Also reaching the round of 16 was top-ranked Roger Federer, who
served poorly but still beat No. 29 Nicolas Almagro 7-5, 6-3.
Federer will next face qualifier Guillermo Canas, who ended
Federer's 41-match winning streak two weeks ago at Indian Wells.

Canas advanced by beating No. 15 Richard Gasquet 7-6 (3), 6-3.
Other winners included No. 6 Tommy Robredo, No. 23 Juan Ignacio
Chela and No. 24 Radek Stepanek. Delic plays Chela on Tuesday.

Ranked 89th, the 24-year-old Delic is only 11-21 since turning
pro in 2003 and has never before won consecutive matches at an ATP
tournament.

The 6-foot-5 Delic overcame two set points in the first set, one
when replay reversed a call. He served well, saving seven of eight
break points, and hit 28 winners to 11 for Davydenko.

The American upstart became more comfortable with the stadium
court as the match progressed.

"The first few games, even though I hit there before, it just
seemed like I was out there on a football field," he said. "It
just seemed like I would never be able to put the ball away,
because I know how Nikolay is fast. But then I settled down a
little bit, and my serve kind of held me in the match."

He had plenty of crowd support, including his father, friends
from college and tennis friends Delic met when he trained at the
U.S. Tennis Association center on Key Biscayne.