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Monday, September 7, 2009

Venus Williams Joins Women’s Seeds Exodus at U.S. Open Tennis

Venus Williams became the latest women’s seed to be eliminated from the U.S. Open, losing in three sets to former champion Kim Clijsters after sister Serena advanced to the quarterfinals.

Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal avoided any mishaps in the men’s draw yesterday, winning in straight sets to reach the fourth round of the year’s final Grand Slam tennis tournament at the National Tennis Center in New York.

Wildcard entrant Clijsters, in her first major since ending a two-year retirement last month, won 6-0, 0-6, 6-4 to send Williams to her earliest exit in five years at the tournament she won in 2000 and 2001. Only six of 32 women’s seeds remain.

“I feel I’m at a point where, if I play good and if I stay consistent, I can make it tough for the other girls,” Clijsters told reporters.

It was the first meeting between Williams and Clijsters since the Belgian beat the American in the quarterfinals four years ago en route to the title. Clijsters, who has won 34 singles titles and spent 19 weeks ranked No. 1 in the world, returned after a 28-month break during which she got married and had a daughter.

Clijsters will play China’s Li Na, the No. 18 seed, for a place in the final four, where she could face Serena Williams. The defending champion cruised past Daniela Hantuchova 6-2, 6-0 to set up a quarterfinal with 10th-seed Flavia Pennetta of Italy, who defeated No. 7 Vera Zvonareva of Russia 3-6, 7-6 (8-6), 6-0.

“I just want to keep this level and just stay focused,” said the second-seeded Williams, who’s seeking a 12th Grand Slam singles title.

Oudin Upsets

The next highest-seeded woman remaining is No. 6 Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia, who seeks a spot in the quarterfinals today against No. 9 Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark. American Melanie Oudin, who upset former champion Maria Sharapova and 2004 runner-up Elena Dementieva her past two matches, is also in action against another Russian in No. 13 Nadia Petrova.

The top four men are all into the round of 16 after second- seeded Murray raced to a 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 win over American Taylor Dent and No. 3 Nadal beat fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro 7-5, 6-4, 6-4.

Britain’s Murray next faces 16th-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia, while Nadal meets No. 13 Gael Monfils of France.

Also moving into the fourth round yesterday were No. 6 Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina, No. 7 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France, No. 11 Fernando Gonzalez of Chile and No. 24 Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain.

Federer Streak

Five-time defending champion Roger Federer is back in action today against Spanish No. 14 seed Tommy Robredo.

The top-seeded Swiss hasn’t lost a match at the U.S. Open since 2003 and is trying to become the first man to win six consecutive titles since tennis turned professional in 1968.

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic, seeded fourth, plays in today’s final scheduled match against No. 15 Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic. Elsewhere in the men’s draw, No. 8 Nikolay Davydenko of Russia takes on No. 12 Robin Soderling of Sweden and No. 10 Fernando Verdasco of Spain faces unseeded American John Isner.

The 6-foot-9 Isner was a five-set winner in his third-round match against Andy Roddick, who was the last American man to win a major at the 2003 U.S. Open. This is the just the second time in seven Grand Slam appearances that Isner got past the first round. Roddick, at No. 5, is the highest men’s seed to be eliminated so far, as only two of the top 10 have lost.

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