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Wimbledon 2010: Venus Williams through to last 16

Venus Williams
Venus Williams en route to a straight sets win over 26th seed Alisa Kleybanova

By Les Roopanarine

The 6-4 6-2 scoreline might suggest otherwise, but five-time champion Venus Williams was made to work hard for her third-round win over Alisa Kleybanova.

Kleybanova, a 20-year-old Muscovite who hits the ball with an almighty wallop, stunned Williams by racing into a 3-1 first-set lead.

Williams hit back in typically powerful fashion, breaking twice to win the set.

But Kleybanova stretched her feted opponent all the way in a second set lasting a minute short of an hour.

Williams may be regarded as the queen of Centre Court, but bowing to royalty has been the subject of some uncertainty at Wimbledon this week and Kleybanova, the 26th seed, caught the prevailing wind.

Williams won their only previous encounter on grass, in the last 16 at Wimbledon in 2008, but Kleybanova was able to draw on the memory of a clay-court victory over the American in Madrid last year.

It served her well - albeit not well enough to win - and Williams, who will play the Australian Jarmila Groth next, was clearly impressed.

"She definitely is a very tough competitor and we've had a few matches before where she's played so well," said Williams, who was detained on Court One for an hour and 37 minutes.

"She serves well, so it was definitely a challenge. I was really glad to close it out in straight sets."

606: DEBATE
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In contrast, former world number one Jelena Jankovic was in no mood to dally. She won in straight sets against the 28th-seed, Russia's Alona Bondarenko, in 57 minutes.

Jankovic completed a first-set whitewash in double-quick time before shrugging off a knee problem and a revitalised opponent to win 6-0 6-4.

She had beaten Bondarenko in 10 of their previous 11 meetings and began their latest joust almost flawlessly.

Jankovic hit 12 winners and made just three unforced errors as she wrapped up the first set in 14 minutes.

But it was a measure of Bondarenko's increasing resistance that, by the time another 14 minutes passed, only three more games had been played, all of them going with serve.

When Jankovic subsequently requested a medical timeout for a knee problem, Bondarenko must have been casting her mind back to January, when she beat Jankovic at the Australian Open.

However, despite returning to the fray with heavy strapping on the offending joint, Jankovic appeared to quash the notion of a Russian comeback. She quickly secured another break of serve with some assured returning.

But Jankovic, perhaps struggling to transfer her weight effectively because of the injury, struggled in her next service game and was broken.

Bondarenko had a clear opportunity to seize the initiative but, although Jankovic's movement was clearly impeded, the Russian could not find the rhythm or consistency to capitalise.

Jelena Jankovic
Jankovic was on court for less than an hour as she beat Bondarenko

An error by Bondarenko at break point down in the eighth game gifted Jankovic a 5-3 lead, and from there the former world No 1 drew on her experience to serve out the match.

The Serb, who is seeded fourth, will now play Vera Zvonareva of Russia, who beat Belgium's Yanina Wickmayer 6-4 6-2.

"I'm happy with the way I'm playing," said Jankovic, who has never been beyond the fourth round at Wimbledon. "Especially today, in that first set I played really well. That's the game I would like to play. That's the real me.

"It's something I've been working on for a while: trying to play more aggressively, serving well, and playing very well in the returning games and coming to the net. I think I did pretty well today overall. I hope I can continue like that."

Jankovic was earlier joined in the fourth round by the 11th seed Marion Bartoli, who won in straight sets against the Hungarian Greta Arn.

Bartoli, who lost to Venus Williams in the 2007 final and is seeded 11th this time round, completed a comfortable win, 6-3 6-4, in exactly 90 minutes.

The Frenchwoman, who reached the last four in the warm-up event at Eastbourne, has yet to concede a set.

Bartoli will play Bulgaria's Tsvetana Pironkova for a place in the quarter finals. Pironkova was leading 6-4 2-0 when an injury forced her opponent, the Russian Regina Kulikova, to retire.



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see also
Live - Wimbledon 2010
25 Jun 10 |  Tennis
Tired Isner thrashed by De Bakker
25 Jun 10 |  Tennis
Champion Federer in dominant form
25 Jun 10 |  Tennis
Wimbledon 2010 - day five photos
25 Jun 10 |  Tennis
Ruthless Serena into third round
24 Jun 10 |  Tennis
Henin & Clijsters stay on course
23 Jun 10 |  Tennis
Venus eases by Makarova challenge
23 Jun 10 |  Tennis


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FROM OTHER SPORT SITES
Liverpool Echo Jankovic on the up - 31 hrs ago
Official Web Site of Wimbledon Day 5: Federer back in the old routine - 32 hrs ago
Sunday People Sports News: Jankovic on the up - 38 hrs ago
The Independent Venus sends out warning with power-packed romp to victory - 42 hrs ago
Reuters UK RPT-WRAPUP 1-Tennis-Federer finds form as Isner's tank runs dry - 42 hrs ago


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