Wimbledon women's quarterfinals preview
The women's Final Four will be determined on ladies' quarterfinal day at Wimbledon. Former champions Maria Sharapova, Venus Williams and Lindsay Davenport return after matches Monday, along with fellow Slam winners Anastasia Myskina, Mary Pierce and Svetlana Kuznetsova, who are also anxious for a piece of the biggest prize in tennis. Russia is certainly represented well Tuesday, sending a record four players to the quarterfinals.
• In a reprise of her French Open effort, 29-year-old Davenport needed three sets to overcome nemesis Kim Clijsters and advance to the quarterfinals here for a seventh consecutive time. The current world No. 1 faces U.S. Open champion Kuznetsova in a third meeting. Kuznetsova earned the first win in this series at the 2004 U.S. Open semifinals in three sets, but Davenport was hobbled in that match by a strained left hip flexor. Davenport avenged the loss in Tokyo earlier this year, winning in straight sets. Tuesday, a healthy Davenport will have another go at the athletic Russian as she seeks her fifth Wimbledon semifinal in her last six tries. Kuznetsova celebrated her 20th birthday Monday with a win against Magdalena Maleeva to advance to her second quarterfinals appearance here.
• Third-seeded Amelie Mauresmo has been flying under the radar, quietly rolling through the field without losing a single set. At the other end of the spectrum is her opponent, Myskina, who has endured two harrowing and exhausting three-setters in her last two matches. Myskina, the 2004 French Open champion who has seen her play suffer this year because of injury and off-court problems, squandered a 6-0, 5-3 lead in the third round against Jelena Jankovic before finally pulling out the victory 10-8 in the third. On Monday, things didn't get much easier against countrywoman Elena Dementieva. Myskina trailed 6-1, 3-0 before winning 7-5 in the third. Mauresmo leads the series with the Russian, having won the last three meetings and five of six overall. Mauresmo is seeking her third straight Wimbledon semifinal, and Myskina is looking for her second Slam semifinal, her first here at The Championships.
• Two-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams has been improving her play steadily in each successive round. After a shaky start, Venus got her game in gear, avenging the loss of younger sister Serena with a 6-0, 6-2 thrashing of American 30-year-old Jill Craybas. The win placed her in her seventh Wimbledon quarterfinal and within three victories of Wimbledon title No. 3. Venus will face her toughest test of the tournament in resurgent No. 12 seed Pierce. Thirty-year-old Pierce is nicely backing up her surprise runner-up effort at the French Open earlier this month by advancing to her first quarterfinal here since 1996. After saving a match point in the second round against qualifier Julia Vakulenko, powerful Pierce has lost just nine games without dropping serve in her last two matches. But head-to-head, Venus has won six of nine career meetings, including the last four in straight sets.
• Sharapova, the No. 2 seed, continues her bid for a successful first Grand Slam title defense today against countrywoman and No. 8 seed Nadia Petrova. Sharapova has been the women's answer to Roger Federer's domination of the grass court circuit of late. The 18-year-old has won 21 straight matches on the turf and 11 straight here at Wimbledon. Thus far, she has yet to surrender a set and has dropped serve a tournament-low once. Petrova, the highest-ranked player who has yet to claim a WTA title, is enjoying her best Wimbledon after losing twice before in the fourth round. In the only previous meeting between the young Russians, Sharapova defeated Petrova in straight sets at Los Angeles in 2003. If nothing else, a Russian is at least guaranteed of reaching the semifinals here for the second straight year on the women's side.
Miki Singh is a tennis researcher for ESPN.
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