Fri, Jun 24, 2011 - Page 20 News List

Team Williams powers on

STEALING THE SHOW:After Venus defeated Japan’s Kimiko Date-Krumm in an epic match on Wednesday, Serena recovered from a hiccup to beat Simona Halep

AP and Reuters, LONDON

Serena Williams of the US returns to Simona Halep of Romania yesterday at Wimbledon in London.

Photo: Reuters

Defending champion Serena Williams, still searching for her Grand Slam form after a yearlong absence, recovered from a poor start on Thursday to beat Simona Halep in three sets and move into the third round of Wimbledon and stay on course for a fifth title.

After dropping the first set, Williams regained her renowned fierce intensity and powerful shot--making to dominate the rest of the way, winning 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 on Court Two.

From 4-2 in the second set, the seventh-seeded American won eight out of the last nine games to re-establish her supremacy.

It was the fourth consecutive three-setter Williams has played since returning last week at the Eastbourne grass-court tournament. She had been out for nearly a year after two foot operations and blood clots in her lungs.

In the men’s draw, Novak Djokovic of Serbia defeated South Africa’s Kevin Anderson 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.

On Wednesday, Taiwan’s Chuang Chia-jung and Hsieh Su-wei were defeated 6-4, 6-4 by Sorana Cirstea of Romania and Ayumi Morita of Japan in the women’s doubles.

Also on Wednesday, it was Venus’ turn to write the Williams plot line at Wimbledon as she survived a gripping three-set battle with 40-year-old Japanese Kimiko Date-Krumm.

Venus’ sister Serena sobbed after beating Aravane Rezai to open her title defense earlier in the week and 23rd-seed Venus was made to sweat buckets under Centre Court’s closed roof for a 6-7, 6-3, 8-6 win in just under three hours.

Men’s champion Rafa Nadal also got his first taste of indoor grasscourt tennis, but needed considerably less time to reach the third round by swatting aside American upstart Ryan Sweeting 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.

After a frustrating three-hour rain delay, last year’s runner-up Tomas Berdych and British hope Andy Murray were exposed to the elements, but proved equally ruthless on Court One. Berdych crushed Julien Benneteau 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 and fourth seed Murray cruised past Tobias Kamke 6-3, 6-3, 7-5.

With the light fading, three-time runner-up Andy Roddick beat Romania’s Victor Hanescu in straight sets to book a third-round clash with dangerous Spanish left-hander Feliciano Lopez.

Nadal will be spared the fury of Canadian Milos Raonic’s sledgehammer serve in the last 32 after the 20-year-old slipped awkwardly and retired injured when leading 3-2 in the first set against Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller.

Once again, however, it was the name Williams that had tongues wagging at the rain-hit championships.

On Monday it was a tennis outfit resembling a pair of curtains, on Tuesday Serena’s courtside blubbing took center stage and this time it was the sheer ferocity of 31-year-old Venus’ spell-binding duel with a veteran defying her age.

With play delayed on all other courts, Williams and Date-Krumm, who on Monday became the -second-oldest player to win a women’s singles match at Wimbledon, provided an early contender for match of the tournament.

“I thought she played unbelievable today,” Williams, who returned from a five-month injury layoff at Eastbourne last week, told reporters. “I thought she had some luck on her side, too, with net cords, balls hitting lines. I just thought today was a perfect storm for her to try to get a win. Thankfully I had some answers.”

Date-Krumm made her Wimbledon debut in 1989 when the Williams sisters were still bashing balls about on park courts in Compton. Her best Wimbledon performance was in 1996 when she lost to Steffi Graf in the semi-finals, before taking a 12-year break from tennis.

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