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Serena through to quarters, Venus crashes out

By The Assam Tribune

PARIS, June 1: Venus Williams was unable to join her sister in the French Open quarterfinals, failing in a bid to get back to that stage at the clay-court Grand Slam tournament for the first time in a decade.

Finally back on court after her fourth-round match was postponed twice because of rain, the No. 9-seeded Williams lost to No. 8 Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland 6-2, 6-4 on Wednesday.

Williams, a seven-time major champion, started well enough, taking a 2-0 lead before dropping eight games in a row. She managed to produce only six winners in all, while committing 24 unforced errors.

Williams was the runner-up to younger sibling Serena at Roland Garros in 2002, but her most recent trip to the quarterfinals in Paris came all the way back in 2006.

Wasting no time at all after waiting two days to play, defending champion Serena Williams moved closer to her record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam title with a 6-1, 6-1 victory over 18th-seeded Elina Svitolina of Ukraine in only 62 minutes.

The match originally was scheduled for Monday, but showers forced cancellation of an entire day of play at Roland Garros for the first time in 16 years. Then, on Tuesday, more rain allowed for a total of only two hours of play around the grounds, and all fourth-round matches on the top half of the women�s draw were pushed back again.

While Wednesday was cloudy and chilly, with the temperature barely breaking 60 degrees, at least the drizzle stayed away, allowing for progress in the brackets.

Finally in action in Wednesday�s opening match at Court Philippe Chatrier, Serena looked very much like a 21-time Grand Slam champion facing a 21-year-old who has reached only one major quarterfinal, a year ago in Paris.

Serena had an 8-0 edge in aces, a 27-10 advantage in total winners, forced Svitolina into 22 mistakes, and saved seven of eight break points.

After losing in the US Open semifinals last year, and the Australian Open final in January, Serena is trying once more to pull even with Steffi Graf�s Open-era mark of 22 major titles.

In the quarterfinals, Serena will face Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan.

Meanwhile, Novak Djokovic had 100 million reasons to celebrate reaching the French Open quarter-finals on Wednesday � albeit two days later than expected � as players made a mad dash to clear the fourth-round backlog created by the fickle Parisian weather.

The Serbian world number one became the first tennis player to bank $100 million in prize money after his 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, 7-5 win over Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut tipped him over the magic number.

However, the fourth-round winner's cheque is a far cry from the real prize Djokovic has his eyes on this week. What he desperately wants is to get his hands on the Musketeers� Cup to complete his grand slam collection.

After winning a match that was originally scheduled for Monday, began on Tuesday and was finally completed on Wednesday, the 29-year-old will have to play four days in succession if he is to reach Sunday's title showdown.

�I have the feeling I played three matches against him,� a grinning Djokovic told the crowd after donning a yellow rain hat during his victory speech. � Agencies

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