Venus, Clijsters set up clash

Serena trounces Maria Sanchez to storm into third round

Venus, Clijsters set up clash


 Williams and Clijs USA’s Venus Williams celebrates after defeating Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia in the second round the US Open on Friday. Venus won 6-2, 7-5. AFPters easily won their respective matches on Friday to set up a fourth-round encounter at Flushing Meadows that will have a fresh take on an old rivalry.

“She's obviously a very determined woman and very talented,” Williams said of her Belgian rival, who recently rejoined the tour after a two-year hiatus.

“Put those two together and you get great tennis... Obviously, it's great to see her back but I want to advance to the next round.”

Williams dismissed Slovak Magdalena Rybarikova 6-2, 7-5 while Clijsters conquered fellow Belgian Kirsten Flipkens 6-0, 6-2 in third-round matches to renew a tug-of-war not seen since 2005. In other matches on Friday at the final grand slam of the year the top contenders all advanced, including champion Serena Williams, and Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal on the men's side.

In a mild upset, eighth-seeded Victoria Azarenka of Belarus lost to Italy's Francesca Schiavone, the 26th seed, 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, in a third-round match.

But the chatter around the National Tennis Center was on the impending Venus-Clijsters soiree in the round of 16.

The 26-year-old Clijsters is back after giving birth to her first child in early 2008. It has been four years since the two shared the court, a quarter-final match-up at the U.S. Open when the Belgian won in three sets on her way to the title.

"It's obviously going to be a good game for me," said Clijsters, who is unseeded at this year's event because she returned to the tour less than a month ago. "It's something I already look forward to. It's these kind of matches that make it very special... it's a big challenge. I've got nothing to lose. I'm going to go out there and just give it 200 percent."

The 29-year-old Venus leads the rivalry, that began at the 2001 U.S. Open, 6-4.
Both Serena and Murray, hoping to be the first Briton to win the U.S. championships since 1936, chose different tactics to inspire themselves.

Serena screamed, pumped her first, and jumped up and down in a victory over Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, while Murray was stoic after a one-set wobble against Paul Capdeville. “I got nasty today, but to myself,” Serena said after her 6-3 7-5 victory over the Spaniard. “I was just screaming to myself because I wasn't very happy with my performance.”

Federer advances

Five-times champion Roger Federer lost his first set of the 2009 US Open but rallied to defeat former winner Lleyton Hewitt 4-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 on Saturday to reach the fourth round.

In the 11th game of the third set, Federer assumed control when he broke Hewitt's serve after the Australian punched a backhand long. The Swiss top seed served out the set and Hewitt, a former world number one and 2001 Open champion, was on his way to losing to Federer for a 14th successive time.

A lacklustre Novak Djokovic survived an unlikely battle with American world number 276 Jesse Witten before clinching a 6-7, 6-3, 7-6, 6-4 victory in the third round.
Second-seeded Murray calmly reversed the momentum after losing the second set to his Chilean opponent.

“I played three very good sets and one poor one. But you're allowed to play a bad set sometimes,” the dour Scotsman said after his 6-2 3-6 6-0 6-2 second-round victory. Nadal, who missed Wimbledon with a knee injury, appeared headed for an easy time against Nicolas Kiefer but ultimately needed three hours to oust the German 6-0 3-6 6-3 6-4.

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