Another upset awaiting Venus Williams?
WIMBLEDON, England -- It's been a wet, fairly dreary week here at the All England Club, but the weather is about to get heavier for Venus Williams.
She had a clean, precise match Friday, beating Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez of Spain 6-0, 6-2. In a tidy 62 minutes, she vaulted into the round of 16. Reaching the quarterfinals, however, may prove extremely difficult.
That's because she faces Tsvetana Pironkova, Venus' personal Grand Slam nightmare. It was the 23-year-old Bulgarian who blasted Venus right out of this tournament a year ago, allowing her only five games in the quarters.
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"Last year, unfortunately I didn't play that well," Venus said. "I think I just got unhappy with how I was playing and I let that affect my game. This year I won't let that happen."
Pironkova has played in 22 Grand Slam events, and in 21 of them she has been bounced in the first or second round. But at Wimbledon she got to the semifinals, in which she lost -- predictably -- to Vera Zvonareva. On Friday, Pironkova stunned Zvonareva, the No. 2 seed, 6-2, 6-3, hitting only five unforced errors in the upset of the tournament.
The victory was no fluke, it was Pironkova, then ranked No. 94, who also knocked Venus out of the 2006 Australian Open. In fact, the only time she has lost to the American was six years ago in Istanbul. Pironkova was only 17 years old.
"She moves well," Venus said. "Looks like she can mix up her shots really well. Looks like she can get some power off both sides and the serve. So, I mean, she does everything well. To take out the No. 2 seed is never an easy task."
Here are four other things I know I think:
Bernie Tomic looks to be the real deal: On the day that 19-year-old Ryan Harrison lost, Tomic banged his way into the third round. Down two sets and a break to Igor Andreev, the 18-year-old Australian rallied quite famously. Tomic won 4-6, 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, 6-1 in a match that stretched over two days. Because he had to win three qualifying matches to get into the main draw, he's 5-0 so far. Tomic also reached the third round at the Australian Open, beating Jeremy Chardy and Feliciano Lopez. Up next: No. 5 seed Robin Soderling.
Maybe that 80,000 million-pound white elephant was actually a good idea: The retractable roof over Centre Court was used for only three matches the first two years. This time out, the rain has been so persistent that no fewer than nine matches have been played under the lights. Three of them featured Andy Murray, ensuring he would stay on schedule. He's won more than $16 million so far in his career; maybe he could kick back a few bucks to the Lawn Tennis Association.
It's not getting any easier for Rafa: His path to the championship is the draw from hell -- Grand Slam champion Juan Martin del Potro could be the fourth-round opponent -- but now Rafael Nadal will have a little less energy going forward. While Murray was frolicking indoors, safe from the raindrops, Rafa was sent home after struggling to win a first-set tiebreaker against Gilles Muller. So instead of two days off before his potential Monday fourth-round match, he'll get only one.
Tears for Fears power ranking: 1) Serena Williams' breakdown after beating Aravane Rezai in the first round featured heaving sobs. Five minutes later -- still emotional after a 49-week odyssey of injuries and a serious health scare -- she was still wiping her eyes. 2) Sabine Lisicki cried and laughed after her second-round upset of French Open champion Li Na. Her leg was in a cast for nearly two months and her calf muscle wasted away during a five-month layoff. 3) British teenager Heather Watson's heart-wrenching reaction to her first-round loss to Mathilde Johansson.
Greg Garber is a senior writer for ESPN.com.
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