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U.S. OPEN It wasn't pretty, but Venus tops Serena


Published: Sun, September 4, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.


Maria Sharapova and Lleyton Hewitt also advanced.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Venus Williams bottled up her emotions but not her power. Serena Williams shrieked and bounced her racket before limping off an angry, achy loser.
Artistry gave way to sheer slugging once more in Sister Act XIV, the ongoing saga of siblings who hate to play each other -- especially if it's not for a Grand Slam title. Far from a family feud, their matches create a family crisis, and this time neither of their parents could bear to watch.
Venus' 7-6 (5), 6-2 victory Sunday to reach the quarterfinals at the U.S. Open evened their head-to-head matches at 7-7 and gave the elder sister her second win this year after losing six straight to Serena.
It was the ninth time they met in a Grand Slam match, and the earliest since Venus won the first clash in the second round of the 1998 Australian Open.
Serena had won their last five matches in majors -- all in finals.
"Serena is the baby so she's going to do her little tantrum," said older sister Lyndrea, the only immediate family member watching at courtside. "You kind of want to pull for her because she is the baby. It's hard but I had to be there for them."
Venus, who won her third Wimbledon two months ago and is going for her third U.S. Open title, could see that Serena was struggling to control her shots and temper.
"When she doesn't play her best is the best time to get a win against her," Venus said.
Moving on
Women's top seed Maria Sharapova had no trouble dismissing India's rising star, Sania Mirza, 6-2, 6-1, and next plays fellow Russian and No. 9 Nadia Petrova, a 7-6 (4), 7-5 victor over Nicole Vaidisova of the Czech Republic.
Serena was limping near the end but said she didn't reinjure the left knee that flared up last month, or the left ankle that bothered her earlier this year.
"I was just having problems at the end because I was moving a lot and stopping a lot," Serena said. "It always gives me a little trouble after a certain time period. Nothing happened out there to make it worse at all."
Serena said it's easier to play her sister when there's something more important at stake than merely a berth in the quarterfinals.
"Early on it's kind of very weird and awkward. And bizarre, to say the least," Serena said. "I definitely had my chances. I had a set point, I had a lot of different opportunities. I don't think I played my best today at all. I don't think Venus did, either.
"We were talking in the locker room afterward about just how horrible we played. I said, 'You played terrible.' She said, 'I know.' I said, 'I played much better against [Francesca] Schiavone,' and she said, 'Yes, you did.'
"It was definitely a match I could have played better and she could have played better. ... I can't believe I'm out of the tournament."
Former U.S. Open champion Lleyton Hewitt barely escaped the same fate as French Open champion Rafael Nadal.
A day after James Blake knocked the No. 2 Nadal out in the third round, American Davis Cup teammate Taylor Dent came close to ousting the third-seeded Hewitt in a five-set thriller Sunday in the same round at the U.S. Open.
Dent, best known for his role as the hitting partner of the cute actor son of Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf in a TV commercial, wasn't acting when he produced some of the best tennis of his career before going down to Hewitt, 6-3, 3-6, 6-7 (2), 6-2, 7-5.
The Australian Hewitt, the 2001 champion and last year's runner-up to Roger Federer, was pressured constantly by Dent's net charges and 19 aces in a classic match between a baseliner and a serve-and-volleyer.


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