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Serena, Shaughnessy reach quarterfinals; Blake ousted

The two Americans now face each other in Australian Open.

©Associated Press

January 20, 2003

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Once again, Serena Williams had a slow start but a strong finish, moving within three victories of capturing the Australian Open championship and a "Serena Slam."

Williams, who holds the most recent titles from the French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open, beat Eleni Daniilidou 6-4, 6-1.

Her quarterfinal opponent is fellow American Meghann Shaughnessy, who saved five break points in the final game to beat Elena Bovina 5-7, 6-2, 6-4.

"That's a great win for her," Williams said of Shaughnessy. "Okay, that's two Americans in the quarterfinals, so one of us is guaranteed to get to the semis."

Also in the quarterfinals is Williams' sister Venus, who lost to Serena in the final three Grand Slam events last year.

In the men's draw, Andy Roddick came back from two sets down to defeat Mikhail Youzhny 6-7, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-2, but fellow American James Blake was not as fortunate. Blake of Tampa was sidelined by Rainer Schuettler 6-3, 6-4, 1-6, 6-3.

Serena Williams played the last match on center court before organizers suspended play on the outside courts, citing temperatures of 95 degrees and high humidity. They had the option of closing the roof over center court.

"It's hard to breathe," said Williams, who sat gulping air during the changeovers. "But it's okay, I like the heat."

Williams has struggled early in three of her four matches here. In the first set, she gestured in exasperation over some of her misses.

Her serve was broken twice in the set, but she broke three times. Daniilidou, 20, seeded 18th, helped by double-faulting eight times.

Williams then settled down, reducing her errors from 21 in the first set to six in the second.

Shaughnessy, who is seeded 25th, reached the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam event for the first time by winning her 11th straight match to start the year. Before the Australian, she won a warmup tournament in Canberra.

Serving for the match against Bovina, a U.S. Open quarterfinalist last year, Shaughnessy, 23, saved break points with an error by the 19-year-old Russian, a service winner, an overhead smash, an inside-out forehand and an ace.

After another service winner, she finished the 2-hour, 19-minute match when the 20th-seeded Bovina netted a backhand serve return.

Shaughnessy's best showing in a major came at the 2001 French Open and Wimbledon, where she reached the fourth round.

Schuettler, 26, gained a free pass into the fourth round when Marat Safin withdrew with a wrist injury after falling in an earlier match.

Schuettler, who had never reached a Grand Slam quarterfinal before, rebounded from early service breaks by Blake in the first two sets.

In the final set, the two traded service breaks in the fourth and fifth games, and Schuettler gained the key break in the sixth when Blake double-faulted. Schuettler finished with a forehand down the line that Blake couldn't handle at the net.

Blake, 23, playing in a Grand Slam event's fourth round for the first time, had 35 errors compared with 19 by Schuettler.

"When you're playing for something that's really important, the quarterfinal of a Grand Slam, it hurts," Blake said. "I learned something. You can't play the same tennis in the second week as you can in the first."

While Venus Williams waltzed into the quarterfinals with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Nicole Pratt, Justine Henin-Hardenne just about had to crawl there, writhing with leg cramps near the end of her three-set victory over Lindsay Davenport.

After being treated with ice on the court, the Belgian defeated the once top-ranked Davenport 7-5, 5-7, 9-7 in 3 hours, 13 minutes.

Henin-Hardenne withdrew from the doubles to rest for her singles quarterfinal.

Henin-Hardenne next plays 63rd-ranked Virginia Ruano Pascual of Spain, a 6-3, 6-3 winner over 62nd-ranked Denisa Chladkova of the Czech Republic.

Among the men, three-time champion Andre Agassi advanced when Argentina's Guillermo Coria quit with foot problems while trailing 6-1, 3-1.

"I'll certainly be rested and ready to go," said Agassi, who won this tournament in 1995, 2000 and 2001 but skipped it last year because of an injury.

He meets 2001 semifinalist Sebastien Grosjean, a 3-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 winner over Felix Mantilla.

Two days before the tournament's start, Agassi beat Grosjean in the final of the Kooyong Classic.

In another quarterfinal, No. 4 Juan Carlos Ferrero, the French Open runner-up, meets Wayne Ferreira, playing his 49th consecutive Grand Slam event and trying for his first major semifinal since the 1992 Australian Open.

-- Information from CBS was used in the report.

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