Venus Extends Winning Streak

It’s been a bumpy trip to the fourth round of the U.S. Open for Venus Williams. But she’s there.

Williams ran her match winning streak to a season-high 22 when she sputtered but didn’t stop until she had walked off the Arthur Ashe Stadium court with a 7-6 (3), 6-1 victory over Meghann Shaughnessy.

“I guess now I’ve been winning quite a few,” said Williams, who began her run of success by capturing Wimbledon in July. “I guess I have the longest streak this year. That’s nice.”

Friday night’s victory over the unheralded right-hander from Scottsdale, Ariz., put Williams into the round of 16, where she will face unseeded Magui Serna of Spain. Serna upset 13th-seeded Amanda Coetzer 7-5, 7-6 (3).

“I prefer to play a higher-ranked player, but you can’t pick the draw,” Williams said.

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Also winning third-round women’s matches Friday were No. 1 Martina Hingis, No. 6 Monica Seles, No. 8 Nathalie Tauziat, No. 9 Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, No. 11 Sandrine Testud and No. 15 Jennifer Capriati.

No. 3 Magnus Norman—the highest-seeded player remaining in the men’s draw—won his second-round match Friday, as did No. 6 Marat Safin, No. 8 Alex Corretja, No. 10 Cedric Pioline, No. 12 Juan Carlos Ferrero and No. 14 Nicolas Kiefer.

Unlike Thursday, when defending champion and top-seeded Andre Agassi was ousted, no seeded players were eliminated Friday on the hardcourts of the National Tennis Center.

The night’s final match, between No. 15 Mark Philippoussis and Jan-Michael Gambill, was postponed by rain and rescheduled for today.

French Open champion Mary Pierce was set to open today’s play against Lisa Raymond. Second up in Arthur Ashe Stadium was No. 4 Pete Sampras against Argentine’s Agustin Calleri, followed by No. 12 Anna Kournikova against Belgium’s Justine Henin.

It didn’t take long for Williams to realize she had a tough opponent in Shaughnessy. Just three games, actually—all won by Shaughnessy.

“I know that, playing well, I can stay with players like her,” Shaughnessy said. “It’s just a matter of really believing that I can win and that I will win.”

Underdog Served for Set

Once Williams began winning games, the 21-year-old Shaughnessy, ranked 48th in the world, ran her lead to 5-3 and served for the set.

“She was playing very well, living off my power,” Williams said of Shaughnessy.

But Williams began to find the court with her groundstrokes and won three straight games to take a 6-5 lead. When Shaughnessy held to force the tiebreaker, Williams kept her opponent’s hopes alive with consecutive double faults.

Hope faded fast after that.

“I was little confused on my serve in the first set,” Williams said. “I never felt I would lose the set. In the end, the win is in my record.”

The victory kept Williams on track for what many anticipate would be a semifinal showdown with Hingis, who had far less trouble advancing Friday.

“I don’t see this as a wake up call,” said Williams, who had eight double faults and 27 unforced errors. “I felt a little tight because I was thinking, ‘What am I going to do to turn this around?“‘

Eventually, she did and felt good about the effort.

“By the time I got to the second set, I felt it was pretty much at an end,” she said.

In the time it takes some weekend hackers to stretch and warm up, Hingis zipped through the fastest match of the U.S. Open and gave warning to the Williams sisters that she’s ready to take them on.

‘This is My Chance’

Hingis, who hasn’t won a major title since the 1999 Australian Open, is off to her best start in Grand Slam play since then with three straight-sets victories in which she’s yielded a total of only seven games.

“It will be great, definitely, to win a Grand Slam right here. This is my chance,” Hingis said after a 37-minute, 6-1, 6-0 defeat of Tathiana Garbin.

“I was taking her very seriously today, even though I won the last time so easily,” said Hingis, who beat Garbin by the same score in the same round at the French Open in May. “I knew she was injured there a little bit. She had so far pretty easy wins here in the first couple rounds. I had to play well. That’s what I did.”

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