Originally created 05/06/04

Venus makes it an even dozenFederer out but says there's no need for panic



BERLIN - Venus Williams extended her winning streak to 12 matches by beating Eleni Daniilidou 7-5, 6-3 on Wednesday to reach the German Open quarterfinals.

Williams smacked a backhand volley into the open court to end the match after 80 minutes, but not everything came easily for the four-time major champion. She trailed 2-0 in the second set before raising her game.

"It was a good match," Williams said. "I was a little off today, but I was able to raise my game at the right time. I think we both did good for the crowd."

The third-seeded Williams is chasing her third straight title at the clay-court tuneup for the French Open.

"There was a point in the first set when I couldn't get a first serve over the net," she said. "There's days like that, they're weird. But I got my notes, my checklist of what I got to do better."

The American now faces eighth-seeded Ai Sugiyama, who ousted Elena Likhovtseva 6-1, 6-2.

Kim Clijsters also moved into the round of eight, overcoming a rocky comeback from a left wrist injury to get past qualifier Marta Marrero 6-3, 2-6, 6-4.

Clijsters trailed 3-2 in the final set and needed three match points before winning in two hours.

"I definitely didn't play the best tennis match of my career," Clijsters said, adding that her wrist isn't completely healed after a six-week layoff.

"Being on the court and not being able to hit the ball the way you like to is frustrating. But winning, no matter how, is satisfying. It's good to have a tough match like this," Clijsters said.

She wore a brace around her left wrist for tendinitis, which has sidelined her since pulling out at Indian Wells, Calif.

Second-seeded Amelie Mauresmo had an easier time reaching the quarterfinals, needing just 50 minutes to coast past Gisela Dulko 6-1, 6-2.

Also, Elena Dementieva edged Stephanie Cohen-Aloro 6-4, 3-6, 6-2.

The brace hampered Clijsters' two-handed backhand, which she was unable to practice during her layoff.

At one point in the second set against the 81st-ranked Marrero, Clijsters dropped five straight points, all on backhands. After losing the set, the Belgian smashed a ball against a wall.

ITALIAN OPEN: In Rome, Roger Federer's keys to success after a second-round loss were: more practice, more matches, less panic.

"People are looking at this as too dramatic," the top-ranked Federer said after he was ousted by unseeded Albert Costa 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 Wednesday. "It's not a disaster, because I knew how tough the clay-court season is for me."

In fact, with the three top-seeded players out in the first three days in Rome, the clay-court competition seems as unpredictable as ever just weeks before the start of the French Open, the only Grand Slam tournament played on the surface.

Federer joined No. 2 Andy Roddick and No. 3 Rainer Schuettler in making an early exit.

And more seeded players left in the second round.

Last year's French Open runner-up, No. 14 Martin Verkerk, lost to Luis Horna 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, and No. 13 Fernando Gonzalez was beaten by Nikolay Davydenko 6-2, 5-7, 6-2.

Horna upset Federer in the first round of the 2003 French Open.

Federer, a finalist here last year before going on to win Wimbledon and the Australian Open, looked in top form during the first set despite three weeks off the tour.

But then his game fell apart. In the meantime, 2002 French Open champion Costa found his game.

"I tried everything I could," Federer said. "He didn't give me much."