Serena Williams couldn’t beat dogged retriever Martina Hingis despite a 4-1 lead in the final set. Now it is sister Venus’ turn to try.
Wimbledon, U.S. Open and Olympic champion Venus almost didn't do her part to reach the Australian Open semifinals. She sprayed 56 errors before surviving a late service break and beating No. 10 Amanda Coetzer 2-6, 6-1, 8-6 today.
Then the top-seeded Hingis spoiled a sibling semifinal by rallying for a 6-2, 3-6, 8-6 victory over Serena, who had 54 errors — 29 of them in the final set.
"I was able to keep going and going until she would miss," Hingis said.
Before going out to play doubles an hour after her singles, Serena sent word that she had not eaten anything but toast for two days because of food poisoning. She and Venus then beat Anna Kournikova and Barbara Schett 3-6, 6-1, 6-1 to advance to a semifinal against Hingis and Monica Seles. In an Australian Open warmup tournament, Hingis and Seles beat the Williams sisters.
Serena said later that "some pink stuff" the trainer gave her after her first set of singles helped her recover by the third set from a dizzy feeling and to get her feet moving. After the doubles, she added, "I could play another match."
Clement Downs Kafelnikov
The men's side will have the first all-French semifinal at a Grand Slam tournament since 1983, between No. 15 Arnaud Clement and No. 16 Sebastien Grosjean. The winner becomes the first French finalist in an Australian Open since 1928.
Clement capitalized on 79 errors by No. 5 Yevgeny Kafelnikov for a 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (3) victory, and celebrated by throwing his shirt and shoes into the crowd of nearly 15,000.
Kafelnikov hit an overhead into the net on match point, ending a stellar run Down Under in which he won the Australian Open in 1999, was runner-up last year and won the Olympic gold medal.
"I can't believe it," said Clement, who has lost only one set in five matches here.
In his first Grand Slam quarterfinal, Grosjean, conqueror of fourth-seeded Magnus Norman, ended the run of former No. 1 Carlos Moya with a 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 victory. Moya, coming back from injury, had beaten another former No. 1, Marcelo Rios, and seventh-seeded Lleyton Hewitt.
Defending champion Andre Agassi already is in the semifinals, facing two-time U.S. Open champion Patrick Rafter on Thursday night.
Serena Plays Despite Food Poisoning
In three events, Hingis has defeated one Williams sister and then lost to the other, most recently at the 1999 U.S. Open, when Serena beat her in the final.
Two players have beaten both in the same tournament, both in Sydney. Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario did it in 1998 and Seles in 1999.
Hingis needs to beat Venus just to get to the final of what she used to consider her very own tournament. She won it three times in a row before losing to Lindsay Davenport in last year's final. Davenport plays No. 12 Jennifer Capriati on Thursday for the other spot in the championship match.
The trainer brought medicine for Serena after the first set against Hingis. She went on to win the second, thanks to a second-serve ace for set point and a Hingis forehand into the net.
In the final set, after Hingis had closed from 1-4 to 4-all, Serena broke for 5-4. She pumped her fist after a backhand down the line put her two points from winning.
That was as close as she got. Hingis won the game with two backhand crosscourts that caught Serena off-balance.
Hingis Gets Fit, Plays Stronger
Serena held serve for 6-all, and two games later played a brilliant rally to erase Hingis' first match point. She sent Hingis running back with a lunging lob and then dived to put in a backhand angled drop volley.
But she netted a forehand on the next point, and Hingis finished the 2-hour, 19-minute match with an angled overhead.
Hingis said she didn't notice any indications of Williams' illness, but added: "You have to watch what you eat."
Hingis considered her first set the best tennis of her career.
"It was a great match from both of us. At the end, especially, it was whoever wanted it more and who was more lucky," she said.
Thanks to playing and fitness improvements, "you can't count on just overpowering me anymore," said the 20-year-old Swiss player, who is seeking her sixth Grand Slam tournament title. She has a 9-7 record against Venus, but lost their last two meetings.
Serena said Hingis won "with a lot of heart."
Venus Drops Eight Points, Bounces Back
Against the 5-foot-2 Coetzer, Venus, who is 6-1, lost the first eight points and first four games, prompting one fan to shout, "Let's go, Venus, wake up!"
She did, racing through the second set.
In the last set, however, errors crept back in — 27 in the 14 games.
Coetzer broke for 5-3, but then lost the next game on errors.
Venus returned that favor when serving for the match at 6-5, broke yet again for 7-6 and finished in 1:46 with an overhead.
"It's just not liking to lose," Venus said. "Today was not one of my better days. … I had no more room for error."
She said Coetzer didn't do anything wrong, and "there were times when I really just wouldn't move forward. It was terrible. I realized that I couldn't win the match like that."
Serena said later, "I had a long talk with [Venus] in the locker room. She's promised not to do a game like that anymore. She'll definitely be in better form tomorrow."
Rain delayed the start of the match by half an hour while the court was dried and the roof closed on Rod Laver Arena.
The change "affected my hairstyle," Venus said, because she was expecting sun and had pulled her hair back to put on a visor.
"If I had known they were going to close the roof, I would have worn a ponytail," she added.