Next time, Venus Williams says, she
needs a better game plan.
"At the end, I really just went for the gold and got lucky," was her explanation of how she beat Amelie Mauresmo 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 today to advance to the Australian Open quarterfinals.
After suffering through a midmatch flurry of wild hitting, Williams was serving for the match at 5-3.
Mauresmo ended a 26-shot rally with stunning backhand down the line for a break point before Williams, the Wimbledon, U.S. Open and Olympic champion, came back with a forehand winner and two aces.
"I guess we weren't really sure about what we were going to do," said the No. 3 seed. "I'd better walk out with a better game plan next time."
Hingis, Williams Advance to Quarterfinals
Williams' younger sister, Serena, was more overpowering in a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Daja Bedanova, the 17-year-old Czech who had knocked out Olympic silver medalist and U.S. Open semifinalist Elena Dementieva.
Top seed Martina Hingis, the most prominent obstacle to a Williams sisters semifinal, advanced to a quarterfinal meeting with Serena by beating Rita Grande 6-0, 6-3.
With nearly 6,000 people watching a doubles match involving Anna Kournikova on Court 1, play was briefly interrupted when a 15-year-old boy threw a smoking orange flare on the court. Security apprehended him.
"I was hitting the ball and suddenly something dropped in front of me," Kournikova said. "I just walked away."
A streaker interrupted one of Kournikova's doubles matches at Wimbledon last year.
Venus Loses Serve But Pulls Through
Venus Williams received plenty of help from 1999 Australian runner-up Mauresmo, who committed 44 unforced errors to 43 by Venus in the 1-hour, 41-minute slugfest.
Venus charged the net against Mauresmo's first serve of the match and took the point with two quick volleys. She stayed in command long enough to break serve in the second set's third game.
Then she lost serve in a game with six errors, including two double faults, and was broken again to give Mauresmo a 4-2 lead thanks to four more errors, including her seventh of 10 double faults for the match.
Venus broke in the final set's second game, was broken back in the seventh and gained her decisive break for 5-3, setting up the "going for the gold" finish.
Next up for Venus is No. 10 Amanda Coetzer, a 6-1, 6-4 winner over Argentina's Paola Suarez.
"I've been through a lot of ups and downs in my career," Venus said. "I know how to deal with certain situations. Luckily enough I was able to pull through."
In the second set, Venus said her sister said, "'Come on Venus, do your best.' That really helped out a lot."
Hingis Trying for Fourth Open Title
Venus and defending champion Lindsay Davenport, the No. 2 seed, were mentioned when Hingis was discussing possible obstacles to her first major tournament title in two years.
"There is Serena, too," Hingis said of the sister who is seeded sixth and beat her in the 1999 U.S. Open final.
Serena has lost only 19 games in four matches here so far, but Hingis has lost only 12.
"I think if I'm playing well, I have the chance to beat anybody out there," said Hingis, who beat Serena 6-4, 7-5 in the quarterfinals of a warm-up tournament two weeks ago.
Hingis also has an excellent record in the Australian Open, where she has won three of her five Grand Slam tournament titles. She lost here to Davenport in last year's final, however, and has not won a Slam since the Australian in 1999.
Hingis was seeking perfection in her match, and threw her racket when Grande started doing better in the second set.
"She was upset because she missed two balls," Grande said.
"I kept lobbing her and she kept hitting overheads," Hingis said. "I was like, 'OK, one more and I kill myself."'
Serena said she already had prepared for her match against Hingis before she landed in Australia.
"I play enough, I win enough," she said. "Obviously, I wish I won more. A lot of people would pretty much kill to do what I've done."
In men's matches, Olympic gold medalist Yevgeny Kafelnikov, the 1999 Australian champion and last year's runner-up, solved the left-handed serves of Sweden's Andreas Vinciguerra and won 7-5, 7-5, 6-1.
The No. 5 seed advanced to a quarterfinal with No. 15 Arnaud Clement, a 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 winner over Greg Rusedski, the man who knocked out top seed Gustavo Kuerten.
Former No. 1 Carlos Moya, coming back from an injury, beat Germany's Rainer Schuettler 7-6 (2), 6-3, 6-4. He was awaiting the winner of a night match between No. 4 Magnus Norman, a semifinalist last year, and No. 16 Sebastien Grosjean.
Clement impressed quarterfinal opponent Kafelnikov.
"He doesn't give you any points. You have to earn your points," the Russian said. "He can have a long match, and he never gets tired."