Venus survives second-round scare

Defending champ Venus Williams was two points from being sent home by fellow American Lisa Raymond before rallying to pull out a three-set win and advance to the third round at Wimbledon.

Updated: June 30, 2006, 4:32 AM ET

THREE AMERICANS ADVANCE TO THIRD ROUND

WIMBLEDON, England -- The women's defending champ, Venus Williams, was two points away from being upset by fellow American Lisa Raymond in straight sets. The sixth seed trailed 2-5 in the second set before running off nine straight games to beat Raymond 6-7 (4), 7-5, 6-2. Williams won 37 of 44 points during that nine-game run.

Venus Williams
Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images
Venus Williams won nine straight games after trailing 2-5 in the second set.

Williams said getting the break when Raymond was serving for the set was what completely swayed the momentum of the match.

"It was just a matter of me getting that one game," Williams said. "I just seemed to then get another break and another break. It was all very exciting because I was happy that that third set was a lot smoother than the first two."

Williams now is responsible for having eliminated two of the 13 other American women in this year's draw (she beat Bethanie Mattek Wednesday); however, she will not get the chance to eliminate a third straight countrywoman. Jelena Jankovic awaits Williams in the third round after beating American Vania King 6-2, 4-6, 6-4.

Williams was one of three Americans Thursday to advance to the third round. Amy Frazier, the oldest player in the women's draw at 33 years young, beat Melinda Czink 6-2, 6-3, and Shenay Perry reached the third round here for the second straight year with a straight-sets win over Great Britain's Melanie South.

In addition to Raymond and King, five other American women lost Thursday, all to seeded players: Ashley Harkleroad lost in straight sets to No. 4 Maria Sharapova; Meghann Shaughnessy lost in three sets to No. 7 Elena Dementieva; Mashona Washington won the first set before No. 14 Dinara Safina came back in three sets; Jamea Jackson battled back after dropping the first set before losing to No. 15 Daniela Hantuchova, 6-3, 4-6, 7-5; and Laura Granville won just three games in losing to No. 16 Flavia Pennetta.


FISH ON


WIMBLEDON, England -- Mardy Fish is a throwback. The 24-year-old serves and volleys and seems to enjoy his matches on grass. After two surgeries on his left wrist last year, he skipped the clay-court season to concentrate on raising his ranking in Challenger events. His goal: To make the main draw at Wimbledon, which he did.

Now, there's a good chance Fish will record his best result here. Mardy Fish sent him home Melle Van Gemerden of The Netherlands with a resounding 6-2, 6-0, 6-1 defeat Thursday to reach the third round.

Next up is Irakli Labadze, who beat No. 16 seed Gaston Gaudio, also in straight sets. Fish reached the third round in 2003 before losing to Roger Federer. Four American men remain in the draw -- the high-profile Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick and James Blake and the under-the-radar Fish.

When he beat fellow American Robby Ginepri in the first round Wednesday, it was the first time Fish had beaten a seeded player in a Grand Slam in three years. Ranked only No. 86 among ATP players, Fish could well find himself playing the winner of the much-anticipated Agassi-Rafael Nadal match in the round of 16.

Bryan brothers survive in five
The dream still lives for the Bryan Brothers -- barely.

The top-seeded men's doubles team here needed 20 games in the fifth set to prevail over the team of Amer Delic and Jordan Kerr in their first-round match, 6-7 (2), 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-3, 11-9. It was an entertaining match in front of a jammed grandstand on Court 3.

Thus, the American twins still have the opportunity to add to their existing finals streak. They have played in six straight Grand Slam finals, going back to their three-set championship loss at Roland Garros to the team of Jonas Bjorkman and Max Mirnyi.

The ultimate game featured not one but two chest thumps. Mike Bryan closed the match with a sublime cross-court volley for a winner, then lashed a big forehand that Delic couldn't keep in the court.


DAY 5 PREVIEW


No. 1 Roger Federer vs. Nicolas Mahut
The No. 1 player in the world has been flawless through two rounds in his pursuit of a fourth straight crown. Through two matches, he has failed to drop serve and has faced a total of three break points. His start should not be surprising though. Since 2003, the Swiss has won 12 sets and lost none in the first two rounds at Wimbledon en route to his eventual titles.

"I'm just very happy the way I've been playing," said Federer. "It's been often the case in the early rounds here in Wimbledon that often I play very good, especially the times I won. I'm feeling very well. Compared to the other years, I guess it's similar."

Federer's third-round opponent is Frenchman Nicolas Mahut. He took out the No. 30 seed, Kristof Vliegen in the last round. Mahut -- prior to his run at this tournament -- had never won a match in Grand Slam play, entering Wimbledon with an 0-9 record.

No. 8 James Blake vs. Max Mirnyi
James Blake will attempt to reach the third round of Wimbledon for the first time in his career. Blake has looked good through two rounds, hitting 52 more winners than unforced errors. However, he will be tested against Max Mirnyi. The "Beast", as Mirnyi is known, is one of the few true serve-and-volleyers left on tour. He is coming off an impressive win over Mark Philippoussis in the second round. In that match, the 28-year-old from Belarus came to net 61 times, one more time than Blake has in two matches. Blake comes into Wimbledon, seeded eighth, the highest he has ever been in any major. He has two titles this year, but lost in the third round at the Australian and French Open. Mirnyi defeated Blake in 2003 in Spain, the only time they have met.

No. 13 Tomas Berdych vs. No. 19 Tommy Haas
This will be the first match of the tournament featuring two top-20 players. Berdych will be playing on consecutive days having just knocked off crafty Frenchman, Fabrice Santoro in five sets. Berdych, just 20 years old, is playing solid this year. He made it to the quarterfinals at the French Open and then reached first final of the season on the grass of Halle two weeks ago, losing to Federer in both tournaments. If Federer and Berdych win, they will meet in the fourth round.

Tommy Haas is playing his best tennis in two years. However, most of his success came earlier in the season, winning tournaments in Delray Beach and Memphis. The German, who is three years removed from shoulder surgery, has slowly made his way back into the upper echelon of players on tour. Last season, he finished the year ranked No. 46 but with a 30-11 record this season is now ranked 24th in the world.

No. 12 Martina Hingis vs. No. 18 Ai Sugiyama
Martina Hingis has not been tested in her first appearance at Wimbledon since 2001. Through two matches, she has lost a total of seven games. She has committed just 15 unforced errors in those matches. The former No. 1 player in the world has had an impressive season, considering she didn't play a single match on tour for three full seasons. In 12 tournaments this year, Hingis, has reached at least the quarterfinals nine times. She won her first tournament since 2002 earlier this season on the clay courts of Rome. Hingis, a champion at the All England Club in 1997 will have a more difficult challenge though, when she faces Ai Sugiyama.

Sugiyama is playing here for the 14th time in her career. Her best result came two years ago, reaching the quarterfinals before bowing out to eventual champion, Maria Sharapova. The Swiss Miss and Sugiyama have met seven times in their careers, with Hingis coming out on top in six of those.

No. 10 Nicole Vaidisova vs. Karolina Sprem
Nicole Vaidisova is looking to advance to the third round at Wimbledon for the second straight year. Last year she lost to Svetlana Kuznetsova in her first career appearance at the oldest of the four Grand Slam events. Vaidisova, just 17 years old, is coming off the best Grand Slam appearance of her career at the French Open, where she reached the semifinals. En route to the final four, she knocked off top-seeded Amelie Mauresmo and Venus Williams before falling to Kuznetsova.

Her opponent will be Croatian Karolina Sprem who needed three sets in her last match against Marion Bartoli to advance to the third round. Sprem is best known for her controversial second-round win vs. Venus Williams in 2004.

No. 3 Justine Henin-Hardenne vs. No. 30 Anna Chakvetadze
Justine Henin-Hardenne has needed less than an hour in each of her first two matches to advance to the third round. The Belgian, looking to complete the career Grand Slam, has been efficient in winning 35 of 43 points at the net so far in the tournament. Her opponent Anna Chakvetadze, who advanced to the third round after knocking off Elena Vesnina in three sets. Henin-Hardenne was a finalist at the All England Club in 2001, her first career Grand Slam final. However, she lost that match to Venus Williams. Since then she has complied five career slam titles, tied with Hingis for the second most among active players (Serena Williams has seven).




PHOTO OF THE DAY
Steffi Graf
AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus
Former champion Steffi Graf, with her son Jaden Gil, watches husband Andre Agassi Thursday during his second-round win over Italy's Andreas Seppi.

STAT OF THE DAY
104 -- With his win Thursday, Andre Agassi tied Ivan Lendl with 222 career Grand Slam match wins. The player with the most career Grand Slam match wins who never won a major title is Wayne Ferreira with 104.

LUKE'S LOCKS
Each day, ESPN roving reporter Luke Jensen will give his daily picks for the notable matches of the day. Jensen's upset special Thursday almost happened as he picked American Robert Kendrick to beat Rafael Nadal. Still, after three days Jensen is 139-51 with his picks.

MEN'S NOTABLE MATCHES
Blake over Mirnyi
Federer over Mahut
Haas over Berdych
Hewitt over Volandri
Murray over Benneteau

WOMEN: Hingis over Sugiyama
Vaidisova over Sprem
Clijsters over Zheng
Henin-Hardenne over Chakvetadze
Hantuchova over Srebotnik

QUOTE OF THE DAY
When Andy Roddick was asked for his opinion how he thought Andy Murray fit in terms of having Brad Gilbert as a coach, Roddick said: "Brad's a great coach, there's no doubt about it. But if California and Texas are far apart, California and Ireland are a lot further apart."