Originally created 07/01/03

Drama yet to come on women's side at Wimbledon



WIMBLEDON, England -- Even by Grand Slam standards, the parade of top female players Monday at Wimbledon was remarkable.

No vantage point at the All England Club proved fully sufficient, with Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Jennifer Capriati, Lindsay Davenport and Kim Clijsters taking the courts only minutes apart.

Unfortunately they weren't playing each other, and so the result was a succession of fourth-round routs.

The five winners won every set and lost a total of just 23 games, fodder for the argument that women's tennis lacks depth.

"The top players are playing well right now," Davenport said.

She won in 47 minutes, Clijsters in 49, Williams in 50.

"Everyone did it quick," Clijsters said.

French Open champion Justine Henin-Hardenne also won easily, but 16-year-old Russian Maria Sharapova was eliminated.

The women might muster more drama Tuesday, when the schedule includes two all-American quarterfinals: No. 8-seeded Capriati vs. No. 1 Serena Williams and No. 5 Davenport vs. No. 4 Venus Williams. No. 3 Henin-Hardenne plays No. 33 Svetlana Kuznetsova and No. 2 Clijsters faces No. 27 Silvia Farina Elia.

Capriati will try to break her streak of nine consecutive losses to the Williams sisters, including seven in a row against Serena.

"The last few times I haven't been able to pull it out," Capriati said. "But I'm going to concentrate on playing the ball and my own game, and not see Serena across the net."

Davenport has lost five times in a row to Venus Williams, who is 24-1 at Wimbledon the past four years. That includes titles in 2000 and 2001, with the only loss to her younger sister in the 2002 final.

"Venus has had an extraordinary record here the last three years or so," Davenport said. "She does a lot of things very, very well. On grass it's very hard to combat that sometimes."

Williams avenged her defeat four weeks ago at the French Open and advanced to the Wimbledon quarterfinals for the sixth consecutive year by beating No. 16-seeded Vera Zvonareva 6-1, 6-3. Williams was upset by Zvonareva in the fourth round at Paris, her earliest exit at a Grand Slam event in two years.

But that was on clay, with Williams slowed by an abdominal strain. On her favorite surface - Wimbledon's grass - the two-time champion was a much more confident, aggressive opponent.

"The circumstances were different," Williams said. "Last time she was the better player. This time it was nice I was able to win."

While her sister was winning on Centre Court, Venus overcame Court 2's reputation as "the Graveyard of Champions," hitting 25 winners to five for Zvonareva.

"Venus was unbelievable today," Zvonareva said. "She didn't give me chances. I'm more comfortable with the longer points on clay. Here it's quick tennis, which she prefers more. It was easier for her."

Serena Williams won 16 of the first 18 points and beat No. 15 Elena Dementieva 6-2, 6-2.

"I never really exceed my expectations," Williams said. "I was just playing pretty good."

Clijsters, who has lost 12 games in four matches, eliminated No. 13 Ai Sugiyama 6-3, 6-2. Davenport, the 1999 champion, beat unseeded Shinobu Asagoe 6-4, 6-1. Capriati eliminated No. 10 Anastasia Myskina 6-2, 6-3.

Henin-Hardenne beat unseeded Mary Pierce 6-3, 6-3. Sharapova, a wild-card entry playing at Wimbledon for the first time, lost to Russian compatriot Kuznetsova 6-1, 2-6, 7-5.

Farina Elia, an Italian playing in her 44th Grand Slam tournament, reached the quarterfinals of a major event for the first time by beating Paola Suarez 7-5, 7-6 (3).

"I don't go on court just to be a loser," Farina Elia said. "Italian fans can watch me finally and enjoy."