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Venus picks up the pace

No. 6 seed Venus Williams, above, says she had “a little bit of a slow start” in her 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 win over Francesca Schiavone.

Associated Press

No. 6 seed Venus Williams, above, says she had “a little bit of a slow start” in her 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 win over Francesca Schiavone.

MELBOURNE, Australia — Venus Williams advanced to the Australian Open quarterfinals for the seventh time and will face Li Na, who has never made it this far at the tournament.

Williams, seeded sixth, beat Francesca Schiavone 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 today, recovering after dropping a set to the Italian for the first time since 2003.

Li upset No. 4 seed Caroline Wozniacki, a U.S. Open finalist last year, 6-3, 6-2 in a 98-minute match that featured 12 service breaks. Along with 2008 Wimbledon semifinalist Zheng Jie, who is in the other half of the draw, this is the first time two Chinese have reached the quarterfinals at the same Grand Slam tournament.

Venus and sister Serena are on track to meet in the semis. Top-ranked and defending champion Serena plays Sam Stosur in a fourth-round match later today.

Venus struggled to hold serve in the first set but was in command by the end, when she won the last six games after Schiavone broke her to open the third. "Francesca was playing so well, she was so tenacious, she has so much speed," Venus said. "I had a little bit of a slow start."

Four days after an angry outburst over rules relating to replays and line calls, Andy Roddick got a crucial call in his favor in his fourth-round win over Fernando Gonzalez on Sunday.

Roddick held off the 2007 Australian Open finalist 6-3, 3-6, 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 to reach the quarters. He meets No. 14 Marin Cilic, who ousted U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro in five sets.

Sunday's upsets also included exits for two of the top women: No. 2 Dinara Safina, last year's runnerup, and No. 3 Svetlana Kuznetsova, the reigning French Open champion.

"I got a little lucky, but sometimes it's better to be lucky than good," Roddick said.

After wasting four set points in the 10th game of the fourth set, Roddick, the seventh seed, rallied from 40-0 down in the 12th — Gonzalez's next service game — to earn a fifth set point. Then he hit a dipping crosscourt forehand.

The ball was called out, and Gonzalez didn't take a swing. Roddick challenged the call. The evidence showed the ball just caught the line, giving Roddick the set to level the match at two-all and igniting a protest from Gonzalez.

The Chilean argued that he could have had a play on the ball, but chair umpire Enric Molina declined to replay the point.

At the end of Roddick's second-round win over Thomasz Bellucci, he angrily objected to a decision that went against him on a match point.

Safina had to retire because of a back injury against Maria Kirilenko, who upset 2008 champion Maria Sharapova in the first round. Kuznetsova lost to Nadia Petrova, who beat U.S. Open champion Kim Clijsters in the third round.

Former No. 1 Justine Henin, in her first Grand Slam tournament in two years, beat Yanina Wickmayer. Defending champion Rafael Nadal and No. 5 Andy Murray also advanced.

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Venus picks up the pace 01/24/10 [Last modified: Monday, January 25, 2010 12:13am]
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