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Page last updated at 15:49 GMT, Monday, 28 June 2010 16:49 UK

Wimbledon 2010: Serena Williams beats Maria Sharapova

Wimbledon Championships
Venue: All England Club, London Date: 21 June - 4 July
Coverage:
Live on BBC One and Two, HD, Red Button, BBC Sport website (UK only), Radio 5 live, 5 live sports extra; live text commentary online and on mobile phones; watch again on BBC iPlayer Full details of BBC coverage

Serena Williams

Serena sees off brave Sharapova

By David Ornstein
BBC Sport at Wimbledon

Defending champion Serena Williams came through her first genuine test to see off a resurgent Maria Sharapova and reach the quarter-finals of Wimbledon.

The American top seed beat her Russian opponent 7-6 (11-9) 6-4 to set up a last-eight meeting with China's Li Na.

Sharapova, who overcame Williams in the 2004 final, bounced back from an early break of serve but squandered three set points in the first set tie-break.

Williams then broke once in the second before serving out for a 96-minute win.

"She played really well and is really doing good," the world number one, who remains on course to meet sister Venus in the final, told BBC Sport.

Serena Williams

Serena expects 'tougher' time against Li

"I don't know how I pull myself out of situations like that tie-break - I was just able to relax. The crowd was great and I was really happy they were rooting really hard for me."

Williams said before the match that she was not entirely happy with her current form but, on this evidence, she has little cause for concern as she continues her bid for a 13th Grand Slam title.

While ninth seed Li is sure to pose a threat following her 6-3 6-2 win against seventh seed Agnieszka Radwanska, Williams has won four of their previous five meetings.

And if she can reproduce the performance level that got her past Sharapova, a semi-final berth should beckon.

"She served extremely well, the best she's ever served against me, and that was the difference," Sharapova said of Williams, who sent down 19 aces and won 84% of points on her first serve.

"I had a few looks at her serve but when they're coming out at 120mph it's pretty hard to do anything about it. She wins the majority of matches by serving well so you've got to win your own service games to stand any chance.

"I did that today but not well enough. I played really well and had my chances in the first set. I felt really good and gave her a run for her money.

"I'm in a much better place than I was last year, playing well and feeling great."

Serena served extremely well, the best she's ever served against me, and that was the difference

Maria Sharapova

Williams and Sharapova were meeting at Wimbledon for the first time since the 2004 final, when the Russian triumphed as a 17-year-old to become the second-youngest SW19 champion in the Open Era.

It was an eagerly anticipated encounter and although the pair arrived to a sparsely-populated Centre Court, the crowd having filtered out after Roger Federer's victory over Jurgen Melzer, there was soon not a seat to be had.

And it was easy to see why as Williams opened with a flurry of aces and Sharapova responded by offering a commanding service hold of her own in game two.

It was the first time in this year's tournament that Williams had conceded a game in the opening set and she responded with another three aces before cranking up the pressure on her opponent's serve.

Sharapova went long and then netted to fall 0-40 down in game four, and Williams wasted no time in wrapping up the break with a crunching forehand return.

But the three-time Grand Slam champion, fully recovered from the shoulder injury that saw her miss nine months and drop to 126th in the world in May 2009, was in no mood to be rolled over and hit straight back when Williams lifted a backhand beyond the baseline.

For long periods this was not one for the purists, with no quarter asked or given by either woman, but they played out a gripping tie-break and Sharapova will be left to rue her missed opportunities.

606: DEBATE

After hitting back from an early mini-break and then coming up with a stinging forehand winner to move 5-3 ahead, Williams netted a backhand to bring up 6-4 and two set points.

Two wayward forehands put paid to Sharapova's hopes on that occasion and she wasted a third opportunity at 8-7, going into the tramlines with a forehand return.

A double-fault at 9-9 gave Williams her third opening and the 28-year-old showed all her experience to seal the set with a thumping ace.

There was, again, precious little to chose between the players in the second but Sharapova, 23, seemed to lose her concentration in game three and was duly punished.

Another double-fault and netted forehand saw Williams break to 15 and she never looked back, reeling off unstoppable deliveries and winner before taking the second of three break point when Sharpova put a backhand wide.



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see also
Serena v Sharapova as it happened
28 Jun 10 |  Tennis
Wimbledon day seven as it happened
28 Jun 10 |  Tennis
Wimbledon 2010 - day seven photos
28 Jun 10 |  Tennis
Serena coasts into Sharapova tie
26 Jun 10 |  Tennis
Ruthless Serena into third round
24 Jun 10 |  Tennis
Sixth seed Stosur in shock exit
22 Jun 10 |  Tennis
Serena sees off De Brito at SW19
22 Jun 10 |  Tennis
Women's singles results
21 May 10 |  Results
Women's singles draw
28 Jan 10 |  Tennis
Tennis on the BBC
26 Oct 11 |  Tennis


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