Sunday 25 February 2018

Serena Williams stumbles past opponent in damp and drizzly Wimbledon

Press Association

FOUR-time Wimbledon champion Serena Williams came through a tough test of her title credentials on a damp and drizzly Court Two today as she saw off Yaroslava Shvedova in three sets.

Conditions were rarely better than grim, with a strong wind ripping around for the duration and the final games being played under fine rain.

But Williams overcame the elements, as well as her in-form opponent - Shvedova recorded the first-ever 'golden set' at a grand slam on Saturday - to progress to a 12th Wimbledon quarter-final, winning 6-1 2-6 7-5.

Her winning shot - a backhand that Shvedova failed to respond to - came with the rest of the courts taking shelter from the rain, but Williams insisted afterwards she never considered asking to leave the court.

"I didn't want to lose today, I thought stay relaxed," she said.

"I felt fine. We both wanted to keep playing as it was so deep into the match. I didn't want to stop and I don't think she did."

It had looked as though the match would be wrapped up in no time at all when Williams took the opening set without barely breaking sweat.

Shvedova actually took the first point of the match, raising fanciful hopes of another perfect set, but that was neither likely nor expected and she then lost her first service game when she netted a forehand.

Her second game with ball in hand went in Williams' favour too and at 4-0 down with 11 minutes gone, the omens were not good for the 24-year-old from Kazakhstan.

She made a fist of the closing games, though, and despite losing the set was far more competitive, highlighted when she broke WIlliams in the sixth game of the second set when she forced the American to net.

Another break in the eighth game - a backhand winner completing the job - got her level at 1-1 and set up a decider, which was a chanceless affair until Williams earned a seventh-game break point.

She was unable to take it, Shvedova serving away from trouble, and when she squandered three more in the ninth game, it appeared that fortune was not with Williams.

But when another chance came her way at 5-5 she took it, albeit through her opponent's error, and she served out for the match, digging out a brilliant backhand lob at 30-30 to set up her one and only match point.

Meanwhile, Roger Federer needed treatment for an injury as he struggled to take the first set against Xavier Malisse on Centre Court.

Play was suspended in the fourth-round Wimbledon clash due to rain after Federer took the tie-break 7-1 at a stroll, but it was far from comfortable for the Swiss until then.

The six-time champion needed to go off court for treatment on what looked like a back injury and returned to soon lose his serve, before repairing the damage.

On a cold and very blustery day at Wimbledon, Federer looked determined to get back to the warmth of the locker room, clinching his first service game to love with less than a minute on the clock.

The 30-year-old then suddenly started to struggle. He handed his Belgian opponent two break points but Malisse wasted the first by ploughing a forehand into the net and he then snatched at a return that flew well wide.

The problems did not stop there for Federer as he offered Malisse another chance to break serve in the fifth game but an ace rescued the six-time champion.

Federer then took a medical time-out to receive three minutes' treatment on the injury, and he moved gingerly upon his return to Centre Court.

Malisse looked to be on the verge of taking the set when he broke Federer to move 6-5 ahead but the Swiss struck back immediately by returning a bullet forehand just over the net with a volley, forcing the tie-break.

Luckily for Federer, Malisse's game then went, the 31-year-old making three unforced errors to hand the third seed the set as the rain came.

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