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TENNIS / U.S. OPEN

Kim Clijsters is on a collision course with Venus

The Belgian rolls to straight-sets win and will face Venus Williams in fourth round, their first meeting since the 2005 Open final won by Clijsters.

September 05, 2009|Diane Pucin

NEW YORK — Last time Kim Clijsters and Venus Williams played tennis against each other, Clijsters won, 4-6, 7-5, 6-1, in the 2005 U.S. Open women's final, still Clijsters' only major championship.

The third-seeded Williams and Clijsters will play again Sunday in the fourth round, a meeting set up Friday when Williams beat 46th-ranked Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia, 6-2, 7-5. Williams was down a service break in the second set and limped during the last couple of games.

Clijsters, back only a month after a two-year retirement, routed fellow Belgian Kirsten Flipkens, 6-0, 6-2.

The day's most compelling match, though, was 28-year-old Taylor Dent's 6-4, 5-7, 6-7 (1), 7-5, 7-6 (9) win over Ivan Navarro. Dent missed most of the last two years after three back surgeries, but he hit 120 winners Friday.

Defending women's champion Serena Williams beat Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, 6-4, 7-5, in a matchup most notable because Serena had called Martinez Sanchez a "cheat" at the French Open after the Spanish player didn't acknowledge a moment when the ball hit her and a point should have gone to Williams.

Among the men's winners were second-seeded Andy Murray and third-seeded Rafael Nadal, who beat Nicolas Kiefer, 6-0, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. The top 16 seeded men have all advanced to the third round.

Stat of the day

Tenth-seeded Flavia Pennetta advanced to the fourth round having lost only six games. That's the fewest for a woman with three complete matches at the Open since Steffi Graf lost four games into the fourth round in 1988. Graf won the tournament.

Upset of the day

Eighth-seeded Victoria Azarenka of Belarus double-faulted on match point in her 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 loss to 26th-seeded Francesca Schiavone of Italy, then smashed her racket on the court.

Quote of the day

Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina, a two-time winner over Andy Roddick this summer, on why the U.S. Open is his favorite major tournament: "I like the city. I like everything here, the crowd, the stadium not too big. I always dream with this moment. It's my favorite." Note that Del Potro played Friday at Louis Armstrong Stadium and not the 23,000-seat Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Today's featured matches

At Arthur Ashe Stadium, beginning at 8 a.m. PDT, top-seeded and five-time defending champion Roger Federer meets 31st-seeded Lleyton Hewitt, who won the 2001 Open; 17-year-old Melanie Oudin faces 29th-seeded Maria Sharapova; and 6-foot-9 John Isner plays fifth-seeded Andy Roddick, who noted that he used to be the tall one. The night session, beginning at 4 p.m. PDT, has No. 1-seeded Dinara Safina of Russia against 72nd-ranked Petra Kvitova and 14th-seeded Tommy Robredo against 21st-seeded James Blake.

Out and about and around the grounds: At Louis Armstrong Stadium, beginning at 8 a.m. PDT, Jesse Witten, the University of Kentucky graduate from Naples, Fla., gets fourth-seeded Novak Djokovic, after which comes 10th-seeded Australian Open semifinalist Fernando Verdasco against 20th-seeded Tommy Haas, then Venus and Serena Williams in doubles and ninth-seeded Caroline Wozniacki against 24th-seeded Sorana Cirstea. The third match on the Grandstand will have 12th-seeded Robin Soderling of Sweden against 22nd-seeded Sam Querrey.

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diane.pucin@latimes.com

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