Venus hadn't dug that deep since the match where she came back on Justine - has she? I just never count Venus out - cause she is one of the best out there that digs sooooo deep to pull out a V-I-C-T-O-R-Y.
"WAY TO GO VENUS" "YOU ARE A DEEP TENNIS PLAYER VENUS" "AND YOU'RE ON SCHEDULE" "STAY ON TOP OF IT - GIRLFRIEND"
"LET'S GET IT ON - SERENA"
Tuesday, September 3
Venus to play Seles in quarterfinals
NEW YORK -- Here's how Venus Williams responded to a rare challenge at the U.S. Open: She dug in, pulled out a three-set victory, then went right out and practiced.
No room for imperfection for the two-time defending champion.
She had all kinds of problems against Chanda Rubin before emerging with a 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 victory Tuesday to reach the quarterfinals for the 18th time in her last 20 Grand Slam tournaments and move closer to another all-Williams final.
"Today just wasn't my best day,'' said Williams, who lost seven more games in that match than in her previous three combined. "I had a lot of short balls that I just missed. It was definitely strange missing those shots, but I tried to stay calm.''
She'll play Monica Seles for a semifinal berth. Still grunting on each shot and still hitting with two hands off both wings, Seles beat Martina Hingis 6-4, 6-2 to end Hingis' streak of six straight semifinal appearances at the year's final major. Hingis had ankle surgery in May and made it into the field here as a wild-card entry.
On the other half of the draw, 1998 champion Lindsay Davenport moved into the semifinals by eliminating unseeded Elena Bovina 3-6, 6-0, 6-2. Davenport, playing just her fifth tournament since right knee surgery performed by the same doctor who rebuilt Rubin's left knee, capitalized on Bovina's 36 unforced errors.
Against Rubin, Williams bailed herself out with the help of 41 winners and seven aces, snapping one at 121 mph. But she also made 41 errors, had six double faults, had her serve broken five times, and allowed her 25-set winning streak at the Open to end.
Watching from the stands while snapping pictures through a 2½-foot lens, Williams' father, Richard, wasn't pleased.
"It looks like all her techniques are breaking down,'' he said.
When the match ended, Venus Williams walked off court and swung her racket in a forehand motion while looking at her father, as though to say, "I know, I know. We have some work to do.'' Sure enough, 20 minutes later, she was on an adjacent practice court, hitting while getting instructions from Richard.
They might have been going over what went wrong when she was broken three straight times in the second set.
Or what led to the trouble at 5-5 in the last set, with Williams facing two break points. But the 14th-seeded Rubin, who's had two operations on her left knee since January 2001 and appeared to be gasping for air after longer rallies, finally succumbed to Williams' constant pressure.
Rubin sent a forehand wide on the first break point, then put another forehand into the net to close a 17-stroke rally. She threw her head back, sighed, and staggered along the baseline.
"I had rushed so many shots, missed so many,'' Williams said. "I was just happy to be able to get through those points.''
Up to that part of the match, Rubin's attacking style kept Williams off-balance, though it didn't produce all that many winners: 15.
"I gave myself a chance in the match. As a competitor, you want to go out in every match and do that,'' Rubin said. "But it's disappointing not to win it when the chances were there. You look up -- you're right there for the match.''
Williams is always there, particularly when it comes to U.S. hard-court tournaments, where her record is 18-0 in 2002, and has lost just two such matches in the past three years. She's 58-6 overall this year, with three of the losses to younger sister Serena, who's seeded No. 1 at the Open and was to play No. 11 Daniela Hantuchova later Tuesday for the right to meet Davenport.
Rubin has made quick progress since returning to the tour in May after her second surgery, including victories over Serena Williams and Davenport en route to winning a hard-court tournament in Los Angeles last month.
Of Rubin's seven main draw losses in 2002, five came against players who have been ranked No. 1: the Williams sisters, Davenport, and Seles.
Hingis also used to be at the top, but the last of her five Grand Slam titles came at the 1999 Australian Open. Since then, she's lost in five major finals, while the Williams sisters have combined to win seven of the past 12.
Now Hingis is coming back from ligament damage that one of her doctors said might end her career, and she didn't do much to push Seles off her game Tuesday.
Seles figures to get a different test against Venus Williams, who has won seven of their eight meetings, including in the French Open quarterfinals.
It's been 10 years since Seles won her second straight U.S. Open title, and she talked Tuesday about how the game has changed.
"The girls started to get bigger, stronger, faster,'' the 28-year-old Seles said. "You see the girls now are 6 feet tall, have a 100 mph serve -- that's the lowest.''
Hmmm, sounds a lot like her next opponent.