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post #1 of 27 (permalink) Old Mar 21st, 2005, 12:14 PM Thread Starter
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Nasdaq 2005

Venus not only one sending rockets during tennis clinicIn My Opinion Published Sunday, March 20, 2005by Cory Jennerjohn



How would you like to be a walking target and only have small piece of aluminum and a net to protect yourself.

That’s exactly how people felt when they stood in for a clinic with Venus Williams at The Oaks on Saturday afternoon. Williams as well as other celebrities were in town to benefit Cystic Fibrosis.

“It was wild, especially that serve,” said Jim Safilian after he just experienced playing with the pro. “It was like a bombshell.”

Safilian may have had a rough go of the four-time grand-slam champ, but others wanted to see if Williams brought her “A” game.

Williams would usually start the game off with a serve that was meant to only travel through school zones. However, once the action heated up, it was like watching a Porsche zig-zag in and out of traffic on I-95.

Stephanie Gonzales rifled back several Williams’ offerings and also turned up the gas by making Williams stretch for two shots on the baseline.

Once she sensed that Gonzales wasn’t here for the free lunch, she put her in the crosshairs and sent missiles her way.

“I was just trying my best,” said the 13-year-old Gonzales who has been playing two-and-a-half years.

Another girl who showed a lot of grit was Lauren Klein. With the pronounced grunt, it was apparent she was throwing everything in her arsenal at the No. 9 player on the WTA circuit.
Even though Klein may have been nervous, she didn’t show it with solid returns.

“She’s amazing,” said the 16-year-old Klein who attends Pinecrest Academy.

In the final clinic, Venus was very fluid and every so often would fire a rocket to spice up the volley. When it was a dead ball, there was a short wait as the men were timid to step in and take their punishment.

There were only a couple times throughout Williams’ stops at the 10 courts that she was beaten. And when she was, she calmly would say “good point”, when deep down you could sense it probably drove her nuts.

Even though Williams may have hopped out of her limo a half-hour behind schedule, the crowd didn’t mind at all. Those that did not play tennis remained planted on the main court bleachers, just waiting to see something great during her exhibtion.

Williams may have come to The Oaks to use this as a tune-up for next week’s NASDAQ-100 Open.

It was almost like Jerry Seinfeld going to Amherst Junction, Wis. He’s going to use it as a place to bounce some new material off the audience before stepping onto to a bigger stage.

Williams may have dished out bottle rockets, but a couple youngsters had fireworks of their own.

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post #2 of 27 (permalink) Old Mar 22nd, 2005, 12:32 PM Thread Starter
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March 22, 2005




Serena Aims For Title No.4 In Miami

MIAMI, FL - In one of the strongest fields in recent memory on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, 18 of the world's Top 20 players take to the court at the 21st edition of the NASDAQ-100 Open.
All eyes will be on three-time defending champion and former world No.1 Serena Williams, seeded third here. Williams has excelled at the NASDAQ-100 Open, amassing an impressive 32-4 career record at the event, including her title runs in 2002, 2003 and 2004 as well as a runner-up finish in 1999. Williams made a successful return from an eight month injury lay-off here last year, becoming just the first player besides five-time champion Steffi Graf to win the event three times in a row. Should she win it this year, she would become the first player to win it four times consecutively.

Williams has had a mixed start to the 2005 season. She was forced to withdraw with injury prior to her quarterfinal match at Paris [Indoors], and retired in the middle of her semifinal match at Dubai. In her only other event this season, she stormed to her seventh Grand Slam title in January at the Australian Open, surviving three match points in the semifinals against Maria Sharapova as well as battling back from a one-set deficit in the final against current world No.1 Lindsay Davenport. Davenport, alongside an injured Jennifer Capriati, are the only two Top 20 players missing from the draw in Miami.

Like all seeds here, Williams has a first round bye, and in the second round will take on the winner of the first round match between Vera Douchevina and Emilie Loit.

Amelie Mauresmo is the top seed at the event this year. Last September, Mauresmo became the first French player, male or female, to hold the No.1 ranking, and managed to hold onto it for five weeks before it was recaptured by Davenport in October. She comes into this event ranked No.2, having reached two Sony Ericsson WTA Tour finals already this year, winning her 16th career title at Antwerp. She has played at Miami just once in the last five years, reaching the fourth round in 2003.

After a first round bye, Mauresmo will face the winner of the match between Maria Kirilenko, who made a surprising run to the fourth round as a qualifier last week at Indian Wells, and Anna Chakvetadze.

Maria Sharapova comes in as the No.2 seed this year. The reigning Wimbledon champion from Russia has played at Miami twice before, making it all the way to the fourth round last year before running into eventual champion Serena Williams. Sharapova has had a phenomenal year thus far, already winning Sony Ericsson WTA Tour titles at Tokyo [Pan Pacific] and Doha, and reaching the semifinals at the Australian Open and last week at Indian Wells.

In her opening round, Sharapova will play the winner of the first round match between Eleni Daniilidou of Greece, who reached the semifinals here a year ago, and Tathiana Garbin.

Russians Elena Dementieva, Anastasia Myskina and Svetlana Kuznetsova are seeded fourth, fifth and sixth here respectively.

Dementieva, a two-time Grand Slam finalist in 2004, has an excellent 16-6 record in Miami, including her improbable run to the final here last year as well as a semifinal finish in 2001. In the second round, she will meet fellow Russian Evgenia Linetskaya, who had her biggest career win last week at Indian Wells when she knocked off Mauresmo in the third round, or Martina Sucha.

2004 Roland Garros champion Myskina will look to improve a poor 3-4 record in Miami, never having advanced beyond the third round here. After a first round bye, she will play either Maria Vento-Kabchi or Claudine Schaul.

Kuznetsova, the reigning US Open champion, will be playing for her third time in Miami. Last year, she made it all the way to the fourth round here. In the second round, she will face the winner of the first round match between American wildcard Neha Uberoi and a qualifier.

Rounding out the top eight seeds are Australian No.7 seed Alicia Molik and American No.8 seed Venus Williams.

Molik comes in with a strong 12-6 record at the event, which includes fourth round appearances in each of the last two years. In the second round, she will face the winner of the first round match between Tamarine Tanasugarn of Thailand and compatriot Nicole Pratt.

Venus Williams, a champion here in 1998, 1999 and 2001, sports an incredible 29-4 record at the event. However, she has fallen short in each of her last three trips here, a 2002 semifinal loss to younger sister Serena, a fourth round loss in 2003 to fellow American Meghann Shaughnessy, and a gruelling three-set quarterfinal loss last year to eventual finalist Dementieva. She comes in this year with a 6-3 record on the season, which includes a runner-up finish at Antwerp. In the second round, Williams will play either Anna-Lena Groenefeld or a qualifier.

Other notable entries include Belgians Justine Henin-Hardenne and Kim clijsters.

After being sidelined by illness and injury, three-time Grand Slam champion Henin-Hardenne is playing her first event since last year's US Open. She comes in as the No.19 seed, having played the event just three times before, her best showing being a quarterfinal finish in 2003. She will play either Samantha Stosur or Abigail Spears in the second round.

Also having been sidelined for much of the last 12 months with injury, four-time Grand Slam finalist Kim Clijsters will try to follow up on her effort from Indian Wells last week, where she won the title in only her second event of the season. She owns an 11-4 record at Miami, never having lost prior to the fourth round in four appearances, the last of which was a 2003 semifinal finish. Unseeded this year, she will face a qualifier in the first round, a showdown with American No.24 seed Amy Frazier looming in the second round.

Should the seeds hold, quarterfinal match-ups will be Mauresmo vs. Kuznetsova, Dementieva vs. Myskina, Serena Williams vs. Venus Williams and Sharapova vs. Molik, with semifinal match-ups being Mauresmo vs. Dementieva on the top half of the draw, and Sharapova vs. Serena Williams on the bottom half.

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post #3 of 27 (permalink) Old Mar 23rd, 2005, 11:42 AM Thread Starter
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March 22, 2005




Serena Aims For Title No.4 In Miami

MIAMI, FL - In one of the strongest fields in recent memory on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, 18 of the world's Top 20 players take to the court at the 21st edition of the NASDAQ-100 Open.
All eyes will be on three-time defending champion and former world No.1 Serena Williams, seeded third here. Williams has excelled at the NASDAQ-100 Open, amassing an impressive 32-4 career record at the event, including her title runs in 2002, 2003 and 2004 as well as a runner-up finish in 1999. Williams made a successful return from an eight month injury lay-off here last year, becoming just the first player besides five-time champion Steffi Graf to win the event three times in a row. Should she win it this year, she would become the first player to win it four times consecutively.

Williams has had a mixed start to the 2005 season. She was forced to withdraw with injury prior to her quarterfinal match at Paris [Indoors], and retired in the middle of her semifinal match at Dubai. In her only other event this season, she stormed to her seventh Grand Slam title in January at the Australian Open, surviving three match points in the semifinals against Maria Sharapova as well as battling back from a one-set deficit in the final against current world No.1 Lindsay Davenport. Davenport, alongside an injured Jennifer Capriati, are the only two Top 20 players missing from the draw in Miami.

Like all seeds here, Williams has a first round bye, and in the second round will take on the winner of the first round match between Vera Douchevina and Emilie Loit.

Amelie Mauresmo is the top seed at the event this year. Last September, Mauresmo became the first French player, male or female, to hold the No.1 ranking, and managed to hold onto it for five weeks before it was recaptured by Davenport in October. She comes into this event ranked No.2, having reached two Sony Ericsson WTA Tour finals already this year, winning her 16th career title at Antwerp. She has played at Miami just once in the last five years, reaching the fourth round in 2003.

After a first round bye, Mauresmo will face the winner of the match between Maria Kirilenko, who made a surprising run to the fourth round as a qualifier last week at Indian Wells, and Anna Chakvetadze.

Maria Sharapova comes in as the No.2 seed this year. The reigning Wimbledon champion from Russia has played at Miami twice before, making it all the way to the fourth round last year before running into eventual champion Serena Williams. Sharapova has had a phenomenal year thus far, already winning Sony Ericsson WTA Tour titles at Tokyo [Pan Pacific] and Doha, and reaching the semifinals at the Australian Open and last week at Indian Wells.

In her opening round, Sharapova will play the winner of the first round match between Eleni Daniilidou of Greece, who reached the semifinals here a year ago, and Tathiana Garbin.

Russians Elena Dementieva, Anastasia Myskina and Svetlana Kuznetsova are seeded fourth, fifth and sixth here respectively.

Dementieva, a two-time Grand Slam finalist in 2004, has an excellent 16-6 record in Miami, including her improbable run to the final here last year as well as a semifinal finish in 2001. In the second round, she will meet fellow Russian Evgenia Linetskaya, who had her biggest career win last week at Indian Wells when she knocked off Mauresmo in the third round, or Martina Sucha.

2004 Roland Garros champion Myskina will look to improve a poor 3-4 record in Miami, never having advanced beyond the third round here. After a first round bye, she will play either Maria Vento-Kabchi or Claudine Schaul.

Kuznetsova, the reigning US Open champion, will be playing for her third time in Miami. Last year, she made it all the way to the fourth round here. In the second round, she will face the winner of the first round match between American wildcard Neha Uberoi and a qualifier.

Rounding out the top eight seeds are Australian No.7 seed Alicia Molik and American No.8 seed Venus Williams.

Molik comes in with a strong 12-6 record at the event, which includes fourth round appearances in each of the last two years. In the second round, she will face the winner of the first round match between Tamarine Tanasugarn of Thailand and compatriot Nicole Pratt.

Venus Williams, a champion here in 1998, 1999 and 2001, sports an incredible 29-4 record at the event. However, she has fallen short in each of her last three trips here, a 2002 semifinal loss to younger sister Serena, a fourth round loss in 2003 to fellow American Meghann Shaughnessy, and a gruelling three-set quarterfinal loss last year to eventual finalist Dementieva. She comes in this year with a 6-3 record on the season, which includes a runner-up finish at Antwerp. In the second round, Williams will play either Anna-Lena Groenefeld or a qualifier.

Other notable entries include Belgians Justine Henin-Hardenne and Kim clijsters.

After being sidelined by illness and injury, three-time Grand Slam champion Henin-Hardenne is playing her first event since last year's US Open. She comes in as the No.19 seed, having played the event just three times before, her best showing being a quarterfinal finish in 2003. She will play either Samantha Stosur or Abigail Spears in the second round.

Also having been sidelined for much of the last 12 months with injury, four-time Grand Slam finalist Kim Clijsters will try to follow up on her effort from Indian Wells last week, where she won the title in only her second event of the season. She owns an 11-4 record at Miami, never having lost prior to the fourth round in four appearances, the last of which was a 2003 semifinal finish. Unseeded this year, she will face a qualifier in the first round, a showdown with American No.24 seed Amy Frazier looming in the second round.

Should the seeds hold, quarterfinal match-ups will be Mauresmo vs. Kuznetsova, Dementieva vs. Myskina, Serena Williams vs. Venus Williams and Sharapova vs. Molik, with semifinal match-ups being Mauresmo vs. Dementieva on the top half of the draw, and Sharapova vs. Serena Williams on the bottom half.

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post #4 of 27 (permalink) Old Mar 23rd, 2005, 11:44 AM Thread Starter
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Posted 3/23/2005 12:54 AM


Rivalry comes full circle in Florida

By Douglas Robson, Special for USA TODAY
KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. — One is muscular, powerful, fleet-footed and African-American. The other is lithe, leggy, blond and Russian. Both immovable forces that first met on this sandy strip of land southeast of Miami at the Nasdaq-100, which begins today.
Serena Williams powered past Maria Sharapova in straight sets on her way to a third consecutive title in Key Biscayne in that first meeting 12 months ago. But three emotionally charged matches since have turned Williams-Sharapova into one of the most compelling rivalries in women's tennis in years.

"The fact that all the matches we've had have been so dramatic and intense and everybody has been curious about what's going to happen — I guess that makes it a rivalry," says Sharapova, who is making her third appearance at the NASDAQ-100.

After losing in straight sets to Williams in the fourth round here, the ingénue from Siberia upset the two-time defending Wimbledon champ 6-1, 6-4 in the Wimbledon final, and then overcame a hobbled Williams in another topsy-turvy final at November's WTA Championships in Los Angeles.

In the semifinals of January's Australian Open, Williams returned the favor, staving off three match points — two with dramatic forehand winners — to knock off Sharapova in three sets en route to a seventh Grand Slam title. Their head-to-head record stands at 2-2.

"I definitely think she has a fighting spirit, and I think that's gotten her to where she is today," Williams said after their Melbourne match, in a nod of respect.

However, it's not just close matches from which classic rivalries are hewn.

Contrasting styles or cultures, frequent meetings on big-time stages and opposing physical makeups all play a role. That's what made the iron curtain-born, net-charging Martina Navratilova the perfect foil to the baseline-hugging, American sweetheart Chris Evert.

Great rivalries also need an intangible excitement, something that makes the atmosphere crackle with anticipation. "Even if you don't understand it, you feel it," explains tennis legend Billie Jean King.

The viewing public appears to agree. Their Australian Open semifinal on ESPN2 drew more than 1 million households, making it the most-watched tennis telecast ever on the cable station at the time. ESPN's broadcast of their WTA Championships clash surpassed the previous year's final by 189%.

While off the court Williams, ranked No. 4, and Sharapova, No. 3, are consumed with their stylish sides — Williams dabbles in her own line of fashion wear, and Sharapova her own eponymous perfume — but deep down both are never-say-die competitors.

They yelp. They thigh-slap in the first game of matches. They fist pump and glare. It's up-close combat the game has not seen in a while.

"They just have this primal fight," says ESPN commentator and two-time U.S. Open champ Tracy Austin.

"Compelling rivalries make for great television and have always been good for tennis," says NBC Sports President Ken Schanzer. "It's much too early to say if Sharapova-Serena has the makings of (Bjorn) Borg-(John) McEnroe, (Pete) Sampras-(Andre) Agassi or Evert-Navratilova, but both players have dynamic games and personalities that offer that potential."

The similarities are striking, too. Both reside in Florida, have go-for-broke baseline games, play with flamboyant emotion and were sculpted by dominating fathers who are often lightning rods for controversy. Both possess an insatiable desire to win. Off the court, they are opinionated, A-List celebrities with huge marketing power.

A bit of iciness can also spice up a rivalry. After her Wimbledon defeat, Williams claimed tongue-in-cheek that she hadn't actually been on the court. She grew irritated when asked if she considered Sharapova a rival on a recent conference call and insisted she had no memory of playing Sharapova in Key Biscayne.

"I honestly can't say I do," Williams huffed. "She would probably have a better memory than me."

When told of Williams' comments, Sharapova rolled her eyes.

"I'm sure she remembers playing me," she says. "After she lost at Wimbledon, she said she wasn't there, but I'm sure she knows."

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post #5 of 27 (permalink) Old Mar 24th, 2005, 11:52 AM Thread Starter
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Williams Sisters Giving Teens Pointers, Visit Oprah to Discuss Book
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
March 23, 2005


KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. - Forgive Serena Williams for yawning before sitting down for the media Wednesday morning. The Australian Open champion wasn't bored by the idea of potentially winning her fourth straight Nasdaq-100 Open championship.

She was just recovering from an early wake-up call after arriving in Miami late Tuesday night after she and sister, Venus, appeared on Oprah in Chicago.

The Palm Beach Gardens residents were promoting their teen self-esteem book, Venus and Serena - Serving from the Hip: 10 Rules for Living, Loving and Winning, which will be released next week by Houghton-Mifflin.

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Williams Sisters' Book Advises Pre-Teens



By Associated Press

March 23, 2005, 3:09 PM EST



KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. -- Embracing their status as role models, Serena and Venus Williams have written a book with advice for pre-teens on such subjects as money and dating.

Regarding the latter, their recommendation: Don't rush a crush.

"We both really have a lot to say about that," Venus said Wednesday with a laugh.

Titled "Venus and Serena: Serving From the Hip: 10 rules for Living, Loving and Winning," the book is targeted for 9 to 12 year olds.

"It's a great book for teenage girls who deal with different issues," Serena said. "Growing up, I would have loved to have had such a positive role model to look up to and try to be like and try to emulate. We love having that opportunity to say, `Look, you can be like us, you can be successful and at the same time have high morals and high self esteem and be a very nice person at the end of the day.'"

The sisters, who are in Key Biscayne for the Nasdaq-100 Open, wrote the book with Hilary Beard.

"It's like we're having a conversation back and forth," Serena said. "We wrote it with someone, but we wrote it."

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NASDAQ-100 OPEN: A Really Good Friday

/noticias.info/ Fasten your seat belts because if you have tickets to the third day of the NASDAQ-100 Open you are in for quite a ride. This is the day when you start seeing wall-to-wall mega-stars. As a mere writer I can’t see where to start. Probably the most appropriate to begin with would be with the three-time defending women’s champion, Serena Williams.

Last year when Serena arrived for the NASDAQ-100 Open there was a big question mark that hung over her. She had not played a match since winning the Wimbledon final. She had been suffered with a knee injury that just wasn’t correcting itself and then she, Venus and the rest of their close-knit family had to deal with personal tragedy.

There was no form guide on her but one thing is for sure it is impossible to keep a great athlete and a champion tennis player down. Serena was seeded one and after a first round bye made giant strides to the final dropping just one set on route. In the final she faced Elena Dementieva who was to go on and have the best season of her career by reach the finals at the French and US Opens.

But Serena was in a zone when she played the final here at Crandon Park. The Russian was not allowed to do anything as the 6-1, 6-1 score line showed.

“That was great for me, I was excited, I wanted to win,” said Serena thinking back. “Of course I wanted to win but I really wanted to do the best that I could do at the tournament and on that day. I didn’t expect to win the whole tournament but I just took it one match at a time and that’s what I am going to do this year.”

Serena, seeded three this time, will begin her title defence against yet another Russian, Vera Douchevina, who was straight into the main draw this year which is different to the previous two years when she had to come through qualifying. In 2004 she reached the third round.

Douchevina has a very impressive junior career. The 19 year old was a runner-up at the French Open juniors she was a winner of the Orange Bowl, played right here in Miami, and in 2002 beat Maria Sharapova in the final of junior Wimbledon.

By the way Serena has indicated that her outfits will be different once again to what she started the year with.

Speaking of the most famous Russian player at the moment, Miss. Sharapova, boy what a season she came off in 2004. She captured four titles of which two of them happened to be Wimbledon and the season-ending championships.

Topping it all off was being presented with the award for “Player of the Year” at the annual awards dinner at the Fours Season Hotel last Tuesday night. She also picked up a trophy for the most popular player with fans.

She says she still thinks back to that wonderful day on the hallowed lawns of the All England Club and the joy and disbelief that was engraved on her face as she did what any teenager would do when they won Wimbledon … start using their cell phone to tell the world, as if they didn’t already know.

“(The award) really meant a lot to me,” said Sharapova. “Throughout my career I have always wanted to be the best and to get an award for being the best is an amazing honour.”

Sharapova plays Eleni Daniilidou who last year enjoyed the biggest thrill of her career when she got play tennis at the Olympic Games in her hometown of Athens. For her that moment was like she had won Wimbledon.

Venus Williams will also be taking to the stage. This statuesque star could be right at home on the catwalk but it is the tennis court where she models her best attributes with those long strokes and those incredible legs taking equally long strides to get to the ball.

Like her kid sister Venus has also won the title three times. In fact since 1998 only once has the Williams name not been on the stunning Waterford Crystal trophy.

Venus will play Anna-Lena Groenefeld in the second round. And talk about six degrees of separation; it was Groenefeld who beat Douchevina, who faces Serena, in the French Open juniors final.

Yesterday tennis fans got the opportunity to welcome back Kim Clijsters, today fans will be given the opportunity to welcome back her compatriot Justine Henin-Hardenne who has really struggled with injuries and illness. She won the Australian Open in 2004, sort of played the French Open then was off, came back to win the Olympic Gold Medal and the US open and has not really played since then.

Justine will take on American Abigail Spears who upset Aussie Samantha Stosur yesterday.

Meanwhile the highest ranked Aussie is Alicia Molik, seeded No. 7 this year, she has come on in leaps and bounds over the last nine months and during that period she has won four titles reached the final of another couple finals as well as the Olympic Bronze Medal. During the time she has scored wins against Amelie Mauresmo, Maria Sharapova and Venus Williams.

Molik is the epitome of a tennis player. She just looks good on the court and has one of the biggest serves in the game. Her match is an all-Aussie clash because she meets Nicole Pratt who is looking to turn the tables on Molik after their last meeting.

And so to the men. Again we get to start with the defending champion Andy Roddick, the man with probably the most explosive game in tennis. The man with the most ferocious serve the sport has seen.

A-Rod is going to have to produce that level of serving against Fernando Verdasco. They met just a week ago in the California desert and Roddick escaped by the skin of his teeth - it was 7-6 in the final set. He has a lot at stake here being the defending champion because an early loss would allow Lleyton Hewitt (off injured this week and back in Australia) to gain a greater cushion over Roddick in the rankings.

If Roddick has a game to leave fans speechless because of its power then the character of Marat Safin can leave fans amused but at the same time leave them gasping with his on-court skills. The new Australian Open champion, who is regarded as the second most complete player around (after Roger Federer) will take on the Georgian Irakli Labadze who has been known to, let’s just say throw his toys out of the cot at times.

And for the ladies if they want a spectacle then move to the court hosting Carlos Moya against James Blake. We’ll just leave it at that!

Another interesting match to watch has eleventh seed Guillermo Canas playing Juan Carlos Ferrero. Canas chases down everything, he should be nicknamed “terrier”. Last week at Indian Wells he beat Tim Henman by running side to side and back and forth after every single ball. On the other side you have Ferrero, a former winner of the French Open and a world number one who is in the throes of a comeback after illness and injury last year.

Surely that’s enough for one day. Remember the world No. 1 Roger Federer will make his first appearance on Saturday.

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post #8 of 27 (permalink) Old Mar 28th, 2005, 11:41 AM Thread Starter
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Top women dominate matches
Venus Williams says she's open to playing for the U.S. Fed Cup team if she continues to stay healthy.
By Charles Elmore

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Saturday, March 26, 2005

KEY BISCAYNE — The turmoil at the top of the men's field Friday did not ruffle a hair on the head of the leading women of the Nasdaq-100 Open.

Palm Beach Gardens' Serena Williams and Venus Williams and Maria Sharapova refused to surrender a set among them as they dominated their second-round matches.


Venus Williams, seeded No. 8, called her 6-2, 6-0 win over Anna-Lena Groenefeld of Germany perhaps her best match of the year. Groenefeld is ranked No. 44 in the world.

If she continues to feel this fit, Williams said is open to the idea of playing for the U.S. Fed Cup team in Delray Beach.

"I'm eager to play," Williams said. "I just need to see how I feel."

U.S. Fed Cup captain Zina Garrison has approached Venus about joining a team that already includes two other top-10 players, Lindsay Davenport and Serena Williams, the Palm Beach Post reported Thursday.

The U.S. hosts Belgium on April 23-24 in Delray Beach. The winner meets the winner of Russia-Italy, which could set up a highly anticipated bout between the U.S. and defending Fed Cup champion Russia on the road.

"Obviously, I'd love to play, but I need to make sure I'm healthy," Williams said. "I just came off an injury, and I'm entered in Amelia Island and Charleston. That will be the fourth week in a row for me."

Venus Williams left open the possibility that she would play doubles, noting that the top-ranked players normally claim two singles spots.

"That could be, if I'm on the team," she said, adding with a laugh, "I'm definitely a good backup player. I think, obviously, to have another Fed Cup title for the U.S. is definitely a goal."

Serena Williams declared herself "very satisfied" with a 6-3, 6-0 win over Vera Douchevina, a Russian ranked No. 42.

Sharapova, playing for the first time since losing 6-0, 6-0 to Davenport in the semifinals of the Pacific Life Open, recovered with a 6-0, 6-4 win over Elenii Daniilidou of Greece.

"It was a long time ago," Sharapova said about her double-bagel loss. "I forgot about it."

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NASDAQ-100 OPEN: An interview with: VENUS WILLIAMS (March 25)

/noticias.info/ THE MODERATOR: First question for Venus, please.

Q. I'm convinced that after some of these quick matches maybe you have a date or something, you just blow through some of these matches. What's going on?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I would say that was probably one of my best matches of the year. I was saying earlier the other day, this week, that I'm definitely getting a better rhythm with my whole game, so that's what counts.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about Fed Cup. Have you been approached?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I've definitely been approached. I love Zina, I love Billie. I love playing Fed Cup. I love the atmosphere, to be honest, the atmosphere of learning. I definitely would like to play but I'm still talking to Zina and everyone at the USTA.

Q. Are you going to wait till the end of the month?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Obviously, I'd love to play, but I also need to make sure I'm healthy. I just came off an injury, and I'm entered in Amelia Island and Charleston. That will be the fourth week in a row for me.

Obviously, I'm eager to play. I just need to see how I feel.

Q. Do you sense the way the other players turn up their game to try to keep up with you and Serena?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Sure. I guess if I was playing someone who was top‑ranked and had a decent reputation, I think I'd try to turn it up, too.

Q. You said that today was your best match of the year. What did you do specifically right that you're happy with?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Just the little things, the attitude thing. I'm definitely leaning on the ball, have better racquet speed, just better. It's taken me a couple times to get to this point, but I'm just building on each event.

Q. One more on Fed Cup, then I'll stop. Singles/doubles, how would that work?

VENUS WILLIAMS: You know, I think normally how it works is normally by ranking ‑ normally.

Q. So that might put you in doubles?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah. That could be, if I'm on the team. I'm definitely a pretty good backup player (laughing).

I think, obviously, to have another Fed Cup title for the US is definitely a goal.

Q. Gauging off of today's play, do you think you can swing it on through to the championship?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I would like to. I would like to. I want to build ‑‑ I didn't get to hit a lot of balls today. I did hit some good shots and some forceable shots, but I would have liked probably to have hit a few more balls. It is what it is, and I'm in the third round.

Q. Your opponent today was 19. When you were that age, you probably won this event a few times, getting ready to go into your Grand Slam run. Do you look back now and think of all the things you have achieved at a young age? Does it amaze you now?

VENUS WILLIAMS: At the time I was just always thinking how I could get better and just I never thought I was that good, I always wanted to be better. Now, looking back, I see I was okay.

But still I'm in the same thing, "I've got to get better, I'm not that good." So I guess I'm my worst critic.

But at the time, that's what I was thinking was, "Gosh, I have to do better."


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NASDAQ-100 OPEN: An interview with: SERENA WILLIAMS (March 25)

/noticias.info/ THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How satisfied were you with that?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I was very satisfied with that win, I guess.

Q. Was it frustrating at the end to close out that first set?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, it was. I was just making errors and I should have did some things different. I did eventually close it out.

Q. How is the fitness?

SERENA WILLIAMS: How is the fitness? Good. I'm feeling good out there, yeah.

Q. Is that because you're very happy in this environment?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I guess I'm happy in the environment. I have a lot of friends out here. I'm in good shape, so...

Q. After three years, you figure that this is like your championship?

SERENA WILLIAMS: It's always up for grabs. I'm here once again to try to defend it.

Q. Do you know anything at all about the girl you play in the next round?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Who do I play?

Q. The young Israeli girl here, Shahar Peer.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Maybe. I think I heard of her. I think I've seen her play. I think I've definitely seen her play. Yeah, I've seen her play.

Q. We've heard lots and lots about your upbringing. She comes from a West Bank settlement in Israel. She's pretty tough.

SERENA WILLIAMS: You know what, I'm ignorant to the whole West Bank settlement of Israel. I'm American. Can you elaborate on that, please.

Q. It's a dangerous place to live.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Is it, hmm. I'll have to look more into that.

I mean, unfortunately, like I said, I have no idea. I'm totally blind to that right now. I would have to look into that more.

Q. Would you recognize her if she came walking past you in the players' lounge?

SERENA WILLIAMS: There's a lot of people that I wouldn't recognize so I can't, you know ‑‑ there's just a lot of people. Especially now because there's so many new players coming and doing so well, so...

But, yeah.

Q. Anything that makes it really interesting for us or the spectators that you have new players coming where you, you know, which are maybe not that well‑known but show great ambition?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I definitely think it's very interesting to play different players that I've never seen. I seem to play a lot of players, a lot of different players that I've never played before. It's good because it keeps everything interesting.

Q. By the same token, Kim is back, Justine got back today. How do you see next year going at the very top of the game?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, as long as all the players are able to stay healthy and, you know, get back. You can't come back all of a sudden. It definitely, I think, takes a little while to get in shape. But if you're working hard, you should be able to come back fast. I just think it will be great for the game again.

Q. Is this competition more than what you expected for this first round?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Definitely, no, I knew she was a tough player. Almost played her a few times but then we never met so I've been meaning to play her for a while now.

Q. Does she have much potential?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I think she has great potential. She's a great fighter. I believe she's young, is she young?

Q. Yes, 17.

SERENA WILLIAMS: So she's doing really well, and she's a fighter and a hustler. She's gotten better already in a year.

Q. May I ask you about your thoughts about Amelie as a player, Amelie Mauresmo as a player and a person, what you know of her, what you think of her.

SERENA WILLIAMS: I think, you know, obviously she's been doing really well as a player. She wins a lot of Tier II's and Tier I's as well, hasn't quite been able to win that Grand Slam. She's almost there. I think she'll definitely get there sooner or later.

Q. The fact that she got to No. 1 without winning a Slam, can you reflect on that?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, you know, she won a lot of tournaments. I think Lindsay was No. 1 without winning a Slam last year as well. It goes to show you if you play a lot, then, you know, you can be No. 1. But I want to win Slams.

Q. How important is the No. 1 ranking to you at the moment? Is it winning Slams or the No. 1 ranking?

SERENA WILLIAMS: For me, the No. 1 ranking is obviously really important. I would love to be No. 1, but at the same time, I would love to win Grand Slams and keep going because I always said, if you win the Slams, then the ranking will come.

Q. How much does the crowd affect you when you're out playing? Do you ever pay attention to it, do you block it out totally, the calls, the cheers?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I don't know. I try to block it out. Sometimes you hear what people are saying. For me, I'm just fighting, you know.

Q. I wanted to ask you about your other career. I was reading an excellent book on the biography of Althea Gibson. Although your sister looks more like Althea than you do, but since you're the actress in the family, I thought who could play it better than you if it were a movie? Has anyone approached you about doing something like that?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think physically Althea ‑‑ it would be a great challenge for me because I guess I would have to get in different type of shape, maybe lose a little muscle mass. That would be exciting to play that role.

Actually, I think it would be fun. It would be a great role for me to play. I've never thought about that, actually. I should probably try to get in on it, you know, because actually I would really do well in that role. I would excel because I obviously play tennis and I'm obviously an actress, and I think it would, you know, it would be hot and it would really be able to stretch my acting because Althea went through a lot as well off the court, and then she was playing golf and stuff like that. I would love, love to do that.

Q. Did you read that book, the book was called, "The Match"? It is about her friendship with Angela Buxton.

SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I didn't read it. I didn't read it. Who would play Angela Buxton?

Q. Well, the author told me he hasn't been approached about doing it as a movie. It was something that was on my mind. He said Venus would look more like Althea, but you're the actress in the family.

SERENA WILLIAMS: (Smiling) Venus, I don't know, maybe she acts as well so, you know...

But we would go out and test for it. Hopefully I'd get the role (laughing).

Q. There's been a lot built up about your outfits. How much of that plays ‑‑ do you just let it by?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I just let it by and I just play tennis. People are always speculating on what I'm going to wear next, so we'll keep watching. I like to make people guess. It's fun.

Q. Last year you came back after a long layoff here and you did very well. What's the last part of a player's game that gets back into sync?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I would say the mental aspect because, you know, I was winning, but it's like getting back in that mental stability thinking, "Okay, right here I'm going to focus on this point." Because you know which point you want to focus on. So just later last year, and during the California swing of tournaments, I finally was in that mental aspect thinking, "Okay, this point right here." I was like, "Oh, I forgot that I used to do that." I forgot that was what I used to do to stay focused on the court. I would say that takes the longest.

Q. How much better shape are you than you were a year ago?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Last year I wasn't in shape at all. I was just here on a wing and a prayer.

Q. You say you weren't in shape. When I'm looking at your muscle tone, your serve and your stamina, the long periods, long matches, you seem to outlast players.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I don't know. I guess mentally I was in shape. I was like "Okay, I'm not going to get tired." But it was hard because it was hard for me to run and do things to get in shape last year because I had knee problems. But, you know, this year has been much different. I'm just so excited that I'm not having those issues right now.


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Henin Wins Debut; Sharapova, Serena, Venus Bake Bagels at WTA Miami

Posted on March 26, 2005

The top players played bakers Friday at the WTA Tour stop in Miami, handing out bagels left and right en route to advancing into the third round of play at the Nasdaq-100 Open.

Leading the charge were defending Wimbledon champion and No. 2 seed Maria Sharapova (d. Daniilidou, bagel in the first), No. 3 Serena Williams (d. Douchevina, bagel in the second), and former No. 1 and current No. 8 seed Venus Williams (d. Groenefeld, bagel in the second) who is looking to reassert herself as a threat to the top spot.

"I would say that was probably one of my best matches of the year," Venus said. "I was saying earlier the other day, this week, that I'm definitely getting a better rhythm with my whole game, so that's what counts."

"It feels very good, even if it's still hard at the beginning to find the rhythm and everything," said Henin-Hardenne after her first match of 2005, coming off a virus and knee injury. "But just the fact that I'm back on the courts, it's great. That's the only thing that's really important for myself today after seven months that I've been off the court."

Last year Henin-Hardenne won four of her first five events before being struck down with the energy-sapping virus at the beginning of the claycourt season at Amelia Island.

"I lost a lot of confidence last year when there were days I couldn't get up," Henin-Hardenne said. "That's been very hard. It's been ups and downs. Mentally, it was very, very difficult. Fortunately I got a lot of support from my family, my coach, my friends. That helped me a lot with this experience. But it's been really, really hard."

After Amelia Island the Belgian played only three more events, losing early at the French and US Opens, but miraculously winning gold at the Athens Olympics.

There were also four seeded upsets orchestrated by Spain's Nuria Llagostera Vives (d. (9) Zvonareva 6-1 in the third), Colombia's (Q) Catalina Castano (d. (17) Suarez), Israel's (Q) Shahar Peer (d. (28) Bartoli in three), and American Marissa Irvin who benefited from (31) Dinara Safina showing some of the mental struggles associated with her family, winning 7-6(4), 0-6, 6-4.

On court Saturday in Miami are (1) Mauresmo vs. Kirilenko, (4) Dementieva vs. Linetskaya in an all-Russian, Clijsters vs. (24) Amy "Joltin' Joe" Frazier, Vento-Kabchi vs. (5) Myskina, (Q) Voskoboeva vs. (6) Kuznetsova in an all-Russian, (22) Golovin vs. (WC) Haynes, (12) Dechy vs. Raymond, (20) Hantuchova vs. (LL) Cohen-Aloro, Ruano Pascual vs. (27) Maleeva, Morigami vs. (30) Smashnova, (26) Pennetta vs. Sanchez Lorenzo, Vaidisova vs. (18) Jankovic, Parra Santonja vs. (16) Karolina "The Spreminator" Sprem, (10) Petrova vs. Ivanovic, Perebiynis vs. (13) Bovina, and (32) Klara "Kouky" Koukalova vs. Randriantefy.

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Serena sails into fourth round
From correspondents in Miami
March 28, 2005

THREE-time defending champion Serena Williams sailed into the fourth round of the WTA and ATP Masters Series tournament today, bringing 17-year-old Israeli qualifier Shahar Peer back to earth with a straight-set win.

Williams, the third seed, defeated Peer 6-3, 6-3 to advance to a fourth-round clash with Russian Elena Likhovtseva.

While Williams enjoyed a first-round bye, Peer had made it through qualifying and won two rounds - against Poand's Marta Domachowska and France's Marion Bartoli - to book her date with the seven-time grand slam champion

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Mauresmo, Serena win in Miami
Miami, FL (Sports Network) - Top seed Amelie Mauresmo and three-time defending champion Serena Williams were each victorious in third-round action on Sunday at the $3.06 million NASDAQ-100 Open.

Second seed Maria Sharapova was also a winner, as all top eight seeds in action on Sunday advanced.

Mauresmo needed only two sets to oust 30th-seeded Anna Smashnova, 6-2, 6-1. She will next face 16 seed Karolina Sprem in fourth-round action on Monday.

Sprem defeated Stephanie Cohen-Aloro, 6-2, 6-2.

Williams was also a straight-set winner, ousting Shahar Peer, 6-3, 6-3. The American will face 15th-seeded Elena Likhovtseva, who defeated Ai Sugiyama, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

Likhovtseva was only one of three players who needed three sets to advance on Sunday. There were a total of 16 matches on the hard courts at Crandon Park Tennis Center.

Sharapova had little trouble in her third-round match as well, downing Marissa Irvin, 6-2, 6-0, to set up a fourth-round match against 23rd-seeded Shinobu Asagoe, who beat 14th-seeded Francesca Schiavone, 6-0, 6-3 on Sunday.

Fourth-seeded Elena Dementieva, fifth-seeded Anastasia Myskina, sixth-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova and eighth-seeded Venus Williams were also straight set winners.

Dementieva, who lost to Serena in last year's final, will next face 22 seed Tatiana Golovin after defeating 27 seed Magdalena Maleeva, 6-3, 6-4. Golovin beat No. 13 Elena Bovina, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4).

Myskina will battle Kim Clijsters on Monday, having advanced with a 6-4, 6-0 victory over Flavia Pennetta. Clijsters, who is not seeded, beat No. 12 Nathalie Dechy, 6-0, 6-2.

Kuznetsova beat Dally Randriantefy, 6-1, 6-3, on Sunday and will next face Ana Ivanovic, who beat Nicole Vaidisova, 6-2, 7-6 (7-4).

Venus Williams, who is also a three-time winner of this event, easily handled Fabiola Zuluaga, 6-2, 6-0, and will face Catalina Castano on Monday. Castano beat No. 11 Patty Schnyder, 6-3, 2-6, 6-1, on Monday.

No. 7 Alicia Molik won on Sunday, but needed three sets to rally past Fabiola Zuluaga, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. Molik will face 19 seed Justine Henin-Hardenne on Monday. Henin-Hardenne beat Nuria Llagostera Vives, 6-3, 6-2.

The winner of this year's event will take home $400,000.

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Commentary: Resolve separates Serena from SafinBy Karen Crouse

Palm Beach Post Staff Columnist

Monday, March 28, 2005

KEY BISCAYNE — The first number in tennis' lottery has spat out like a tennis ball from a hitting machine, the crowning of the Australian Open champions the last week in January reducing the potential field of grand prize winners to a mere two.

Marat Safin and Serena Williams are the only players alive in the drive to win all four of this year's majors. Their approaches are as different as choosing lottery numbers based on some carefully constructed system vs. going with the quick pick.

Safin is a free-swinging fatalist. He regards the tour as a procession of traps waiting to ensnare him. He went to the Australian Open expecting to thrash around in destiny's undertow and, to his surprise, caught the perfect wave.

The flighty Russian dispatched Lleyton Hewitt in the final after dispatching Roger Federer in five sets in the semifinals — the Swiss master's only defeat in the past seven months.

You can't bowl a 300 unless you roll a strike in the first frame. Safin could become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win all four majors. Why not? He won the 2000 U.S. Open and has gone as far as the semifinals of the French Open and the quarterfinals at Wimbledon.

It's these kind of great expectations that make Safin's shoulders sag like a tent under the weight of a hailstorm. "Everybody gives their own opinion about how I'm playing and how well should I do and maybe I have a little pressure," he said after his third-round match at the Nasdaq-100 Open.

Safin, 25, was holding court after his latest dispiriting early-round exit, this one a 7-6 (6), 6-1 setback at the hands of 26th-seeded Dominik Hrbaty. In four tournaments since his masterstroke in Melbourne, Safin has yet to string together back-to-back victories.

Something other than Mother Nature's heat and Hrbaty's tenacity seemed to be eating at Safin's confidence and composure Sunday. A match that started with Safin winning his first two service games without surrendering a point ended some 60 minutes later with him standing frozen as the past while a 99-mph serve fell well within his reach.

The match was full of Marat moments. There was his indifferent 93-mph second serve that sailed out followed on the next point by an inimitable backhand half volley winner. There was a racket drop, a racket kick and a racket throw.

Hrbaty said it could have been worse. In one of his 13 previous meetings against Safin, "I won the first set and was a break up in the second set," Hrbaty recalled. "He broke the racket and he broke it the way that pieces of the racket got into his hand. And he needed an injury timeout to take it out."

The only injury Safin suffered Sunday was to his pride. "Personally," he said, "when I'm playing bad, I'm playing really bad. There's nothing I can do."

When the going gets tough, Safin just might decide to call it a day. Hrbaty acknowledged as much, saying, "in the end of the match . . . (he) resigned because he knew that with his game he cannot win today."

There are players with less skill than Safin who have greater self-determination. Only someone who is as tortured as he is talented would say, as Safin did in response to a question about what comes after reaching one of tennis' four summits, "Of course there is always downhill."

Safin is a very, very good player. He is not a great player. The great ones find a way to win when the magic is missing.

There is a reason Serena Williams has won seven majors and a Serena Slam (four consecutive majors, though not in the same calendar year). She has a "Plan C" for those times when her power game is on the fritz.

Williams is the queen of self-determination. She believes she will win. And so she usually does, even when her movement is sluggish and/or her groundstrokes are sloppy.

The 23-year-old from Palm Beach Gardens couldn't find her rhythm Sunday in her third-round match against Shahar Peer, 17. It didn't matter. Williams willed her way past Peer 6-3, 6-3.

She can't bend spoons like Uri Geller. What Williams can do is use her mind to break her opponents. There is no other way to explain how she defeated Maria Sharapova and Lindsay Davenport, both of whom were playing better, in the semifinals and final, respectively, at the Australian Open.

"No one ever talks about my mental strength," Williams said. "I wouldn't have won Australia if I hadn't have been mentally tough or any Grand Slam if I hadn't have been mentally tough. They said (Martina) Hingis was really mentally tough and Chris Evert. But no one ever talks about how mentally tough I am."

Maybe people can't see Williams' inner armor for her couture outerwear. On this day her strength, and Safin's weakness, were self-evident.

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Venus, Serena speed to next round
The elder Williams ties the mark for Nasdaq's third-fastest serve.

By Charles Elmore

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Monday, March 28, 2005

KEY BISCAYNE — Venus Williams quietly struck the third-fastest serve in tournament history Sunday, if computerized match records have it right.

The top speed of 119 mph ties her for third with a couple of players, including younger sister Serena in 2003, tournament records show.


Who owns the fastest serves? Coming into the tournament, it was Venus herself, 124 mph in 2001 and 121 mph in 1999.

It's one indication that some pop is returning to the injury-slowed game of the three-time Nasdaq-100 Open champion, now seeded No. 8.

Another sign: Venus Williams leads the field in return games won, at 78.6 percent. Serena, in comparison, ranks 20th in that category. Unseeded but dangerous Indian Wells champion Kim Clijsters leads in service games won.

Venus Williams needed just 55 minutes to take apart 25th-seeded Fabiola Zuluaga of Columbia 6-2, 6-0 Sunday, the most lopsided result among victories by the top half-dozen players in action. Williams struck five aces and hit 64 percent of her first serves.

"She was hitting really hard from the base line too," Zuluaga said. "My game is to move the player around, try to get good angles. When I did that, she just hit it harder."

Williams said she has not consciously been trying to hit with greater power, but the oomph has started to come back with greater practice time.

"The problem was that I was hitting hard but hitting it out," Williams said. "I am hitting it with a better velocity and keeping it in."

Sister Serena said she she did not feel quite at her best in a 6-3, 6-3 win against 17-year-old Israeli qualifier Shahar Peer.

"Today I didn't feel 100 percent on," Serena Williams said. "I mean, I gave it 100 percent, but I just didn't feel it."

Peer noticed.

"I realized when we were playing I gave her a hard time and she was running a lot and missing and trying to go for too much," Peer said. "She was like very happy when she won some points . . . I wasn't really disappointed, but I thought I could beat her."

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