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Serena reaches quarters in top form

6/29/2004

WIMBLEDON, England -- Two-time defending champion Serena
Williams served 12 aces -- including one clocked at a Wimbledon
women's record of 126 mph -- and overwhelmed 16-year-old Tatiana
Golovin 6-2, 6-1 on Tuesday to advance to the Wimbledon
quarterfinals.

Williams crushed the Russian-born French player in 55 minutes on
Centre Court to set up a marquee Grand Slam quarterfinal rematch
against Jennifer Capriati.

Capriati, who defeated Nadia Petrova 6-4, 6-4 in another
fourth-round match, beat Williams in the quarterfinals of the
French Open last month. Now they'll meet in the Wimbledon quarters
for the third time in four years.

"I think we definitely have a nice rivalry going on," Williams
said. "It's good, I like it."

In the bottom half of the draw, Lindsay Davenport became the
first player to reach the semifinals as she swept 19-year-old
Karolina Sprem 6-2, 6-2, in 51 minutes.

Davenport, the 1999 champion, reached the semis for the fourth
time. Sprem, a Croat who upset former two-time champion Venus
Williams in the second round, had 21 unforced errors -- 13 more than
Davenport.

"This is my 12th year, and to still be successful and still be
at the top of the games, is a huge accomplishment," said the
28-year-old Davenport, who hasn't won a Grand Slam since the
Australian Open in 2000.

The fifth-seeded Davenport will face 17-year-old Russian Maria
Sharapova, who underlined her reputation as the biggest new star in
the game by beating Ai Sugiyama, 5-7, 7-5, 6-1 to make her first
Grand Slam semifinal.

"I want to win this tournament -- I want it really bad,"
Sharapova said.

Sugiyama was five points from winning the match, holding a break
point for 5-4 in the second set, before Sharapova turned things
around in emphatic fashion. From 1-1 in the third set, Sharapova
took four of the next five games at love and won 20 of the last 22
points to close out the match.

"I never thought I could turn it around, but somehow I did,"
she said.

After Sugiyama's backhand drifted wide on match point, Sharapova
threw her arms in the air and blew kisses to the crowd. She
finished with 44 winners and nine aces and showed she's not just a
baseliner, hitting 10 volley winners and winning 16 points at the
net.

Sharapova is the youngest Wimbledon semifinalist since Martina
Hingis and Anna Kournikova made it to the final four in 1997 at 16.
Hingis beat Kournikova in the semis and won the title that year.

Sharapova, a 6-foot blonde with a modeling contract, has been
compared to Kournikova. But while Kournikova has never won a tour
singles title, Sharapova has won three, including the Wimbledon
warmup tournament in Birmingham, England.

"She has a big game," Davenport said. "I'm a huge fan of her
game and how she plays. It's going to be a good matchup. We're both
baseliners and we both hit pretty hard."

Also advancing to the quarters in the top half was Amelie
Mauresmo, who beat Silvia Farina Elia 7-5, 6-3. The fourth-seeded
Frenchwoman, who reached the semifinals here in 2002, served eight
aces and had 29 winners to beat the Italian in 1 hour, 27 minutes
on Court 2.

Mauresmo will next play Paola Suarez, who downed Rita Grande,
4-6, 6-0, 6-2 to reach her first Wimbledon quarterfinal. Suarez
lost in the French Open semis last month to Elena Dementieva.

Serena Williams and Capriati have played 15 times, with Williams
leading 9-6. Capriati has won the last two, both on clay, including
a three-setter at the French Open. At Wimbledon, Capriati won in
three sets in the 2001 quarterfinals and Williams prevailed in
three sets in the 2003 quarters.

"We always end up in the same side of the draw, playing each
other and having good matches," Capriati said. "She respects my
game, I respect hers. We're not best of friends, but we're not
enemies either."

The top-seeded Williams, who hasn't lost more than four games in
any of her matches so far, wasn't happy with her performance
Tuesday, but added: "I guess I can't complain too much, huh?"

Golovin, considered one of the most promising young players on
the tour, appeared completely outmatched in her first appearance on
the biggest stage in the sport.

Williams hit clean winners from the baseline, but was
particularly dominant on her serve. She served three aces in three
different games and finished off the fifth game of the second set
with her 126 mph ace down the middle. As she walked to her chair
for the changeover, Williams held up her arms in triumph and smiled
at her parents in the players' box.

"I was really excited," she said. "I was like, `Whoa!' "

The serve broke her sister Venus' Wimbledon record of 125 mph,
set in 1998. It fell just short of the fastest ever recorded serve
in women's tennis -- a 127 mph delivery by Venus, at a tournament in
Zurich, Switzerland, in 1998. Serena's previous best was 121 mph.

"I'm feeling like Pete Sampras," she said.

The men's quarterfinals are scheduled for Wednesday, including a
matchup between the last two Wimbledon champions, Roger Federer and
Lleyton Hewitt. The other pairings: Andy Roddick vs. Sjeng
Schalken, Tim Henman vs. Mario Ancic, and Sebastian Grosjean vs.
Florian Mayer.