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Page last updated at 10:51 GMT, Thursday, 26 June 2008 11:51 UK

Venus v Keothavong as it happened

Women's singles third round result:

V WILLIAMS (US) 7 bt A Keothavong (GB)

7-5 6-2

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By Tom Fordyce at Wimbledon

Venus 6-2 Keothavong
Keo's third double-fault of the match leave her teetring at 15-40. Two match points - and when a forehand blasts long, the game is up. Champ's through to the third round, but it took her an hour and 45 minutes, and the Centre Court masses swap bottoms for feet to applaud her from the arena. Good efforts all round.

Venus 5-2 Keothavong
A little battle-juice, that's for sure - a spanker forehand takes her to 30-0 on the Venus serve, but two netters off mid-court bouncers set her back. A well-dressed lady in the crowd surreptiously takes what looks like a petrol station-purchased sausage pastie out of her handbag and sneaks a huge mouthful before sliding it back into her bag. Keo to hold to stay in the tournament.

Venus 4-2 Keothavong
What a difference a set of big first serves makes. Venus gets just one of them back, and that beyond the baseline. What's left in the Keo-tank?

Venus 4-1 Keothavong
A dab on the face with a pink towel from Anne, but she needs a little more that that now. Venus is dispatching her with the cold-hearted iciness of a villain in a Frederick Forsyth novel.

Venus 3-1 Keothavong
Ropiness on the Keo serve. A forehand volley of Becker pedigree holds off the first threat of an early break, but a double-fault works another - and when Keo can only shovel a toe-trapper of a forehand from Venus way wide, the break has slipped away. A doomy hush has come over the crowd.

Venus 2-1 Keothavong
Spiciness out there - Keo runs on to a net-corded Venus flick and thrashes it straight at the face of her illustrious opponent. Keo holds up a hand in apology but Venus, hand over her face, doesn't see it. Glowering looks shoot across the net.

Venus 1-1 Keothavong
Keo's landing fewer and fewer first serves, and Venus has started to click. Anne holds with a wobble.

Venus 1-0 Keothavong
In Venus's first-round match against Cavaday, her British opponent fell apart in the second set after toe-to-toeing it in the first. Keo jumps to 30-0 against serve as the sun comes out again but then wilts in the face of eyes-narrowed Venus aggression.

FIRST SET

Venus 7-5 Keothavong
When a Keo backhand flops apologetically into the net to make it 15-30, gulps are audible around Centre - and despite a wonderful angled dropper to make it 30-30, a feeble backhand into the net after a deep sizzler from Venus sets up set point - and when Venus repeats the trick after a powderpuff second serve, the set has slipped away. Three women in hats the shape of mini tennis courts put their heads in their hands.

Venus 6-5 Keothavong
An hour and three minutes gone now. Keo has a glimmer at 15-15 but a brutal forehand rockets down the line. As you were, and the crowd falls silent with anxiety.

Venus 5-5 Keothavong
Word's clearly got around the champagne bars and Pimms tents - all those empty seats of an hour ago have now been parked on by excited rumps. Ominously the Venus forehand has started to find its range, and the Keo second serve is looking as slappable as a Big Brother contestant. Deuce - but then a sweet angled backhand forces a galloping Venus over-hit, and we're level again.

Venus 5-4 Keothavong
Now for the test. Venus belts her way through her service game, and Keo now has to hold to stay in the set. She trots to her chair, covers her leg with a large pink towel and swills a well-known brand of French mineral water around her cheeks.

Venus 4-4 Keothavong
Worth mentioning that Keo had an almost Bogdanovician record coming into this Wimbledon - beaten six times in the first round and once in the second. She holds with aplomb as the sun slides behind white fluffiness overhead.

Venus 4-3 Keothavong
Venus persisting with that strangely-necked dress of hers, Keo in an almost Victorian high-necked number. Venus is cruising at 40-15 but Keo creams a succession of dreamy forehands to take her to deuce again. A man in a luminous yellow shirt gets to his feet and punches the air. Easy now. Venus clings on, and this match is like tennis through the looking-glass - everything is upside-down and back to front.

Venus 3-3 Keothavong
That's more like it - a bish-bash-bosh hold to 15 from Keo. Which one's the champ here?

Venus 3-2 Keothavong
Geoff Boycott in the Royal Box, looking very pleased with himself - must have got his ticket free. A tenth unforced error from the rattled Venus gives Keo another chance of a break, only for Venus to land her first ace of the day down the middle. An absolute doozy of a backhand return sets up another; a pressured forehand loses it. Keo's bang in this, and the be-hatted spectators are now swinging every forehand with her. A fifth deuce is followed by another Venus over-clout and a tight-shouldered backhand long. And so it continues - a tenth deuce, a eighth break-point, the fastest serve of the day at 123mph to save it, and Venus squeaks with relief when she finally hangs on. 40 minutes into this match already, and the last two games alone have taken almost half an hour.

Venus 2-2 Keothavong
Sighs from the partisan patrons as Keo forces Venus wide right but then drills a forehand into the left-hand train-tracks with the court as vacant as Paris Hilton. A sizzling backhand the other way leaves Venus gasping, but a double-fault lines up a break-back point. Keo saves with a kicking second serve and then gets lucky as Venus canters to the tape only to blast an easy forehand putaway wide, and it gets worse when Champ thrashes the world's easiest overhead into the bottom of the net. A decent first serve later and Keo is level, and the crowd roars its approval. Anne's younger brother Mark is parked up in the special seats, squinting into a freckle-inducing midday sun.

Venus 2-1 Keothavong
Difficult one for the crowd, this. Any hint of a decent shot from Keo is greeted with rapturous applause, with polite, slightly-embarrassed silences when returns fly out or collapse into the net. Good forehand slap from Keo forces the error from Champ to take us to deuce, the first double-fault of the match brings up a surprise break point and only a lucky Ivanovic net-cord saves the Venus bacon. Another double lines up another, and when Venus careers a backhand wide Anne has the break back. Good work.

Venus 2-0 Keothavong
Keo's first service game, and she's serving from quite wide of the T, Venus spots the gap and laces two meaty forehands into the wide open court for winners. The break's gone already, and Keo's won just one point in the first two games. Hmmm.

Venus 1-0 Keothavong
Papa Williams watches on from the VIP seats as Venus crunches in two whoppers to go to 30-0. A rapid forehand has Keo scampering and the game has gone in the blink of an iguana's eye.

1302: That doesn't bode well - Venus pops a practice lob up for Keo and the Brit number one spanks it into the crowd on the full. Uh-oh.

1255: Neatly-folded pink towels on the players' chairs as they glide out to pleasant applause from a 30% full Centre Court. Bright sunshine out there are the mo - no sign of the showers we've been warned might poo-pooh things later on.

1245: Let's be honest - it's a big ask for the plucky Brit. Then again, we said that about Naomi Cavaday before her joust with Venus, and look what happened there. Look, I know she lost, but she pushed her all the way in the first set, and she was brimming with pluck, no?


see also
Venus ends Keothavong challenge
26 Jun 08 |  Tennis
GB women battle for top spot
18 Jun 08 |  Tennis


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