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Power nap helps Venus into semi-finals
Agence France-Presse, PTI
London, July 01, 2003
First Published: 23:28 IST(1/7/2003)
Last Updated: 23:28 IST(1/7/2003)

Venus Williams used a power nap to top up her energy reserves before overcoming the spirited resistance of Lindsay Davenport in the third set of a hard-hitting Wimbledon quarter-final on Tuesday.

Williams, the fourth seed, nodded off in the ladies locker room after rain forced the two players off centre court after just nine minutes and two games of their clash.

It proved to be just what the doctor ordered as Williams found an extra gear in the third set to win 6-2, 2-6, 6-1 and advance to her fourth straight semi-final at the All England Club.

Williams will take on Belgian second seed Kim Clijsters on Thursday for a place in the final.

Afterwards the 23-year-old Williams admitted that she had fallen asleep during the one hour 10 minutes the players were off court -- something she tries to avoid for fear of still being groggy when play resumes.

Asked how she could be sufficiently relaxed to sleep in the middle of such an important match, Williams laughed and replied: "I'm low maintenance.

"I'm not a very stressed out or very hectic person. I'm an easygoing person and I just love to sleep.

"Any time I sit still I might nod off. Sometimes Serena comes by and nudges me."

On this occasion that was not necessary -- the ringing of a mobile phone ensuring that Williams was awake when the referee ordered a resumption of play.

It was however Davenport who looked the sharper after the interruption. Having trailed 0-2 before going off, she secured a break then reeled off five points in a row to hold her own serve from 0/40 down.

The rally proved short-lived however as Williams reeled off the next four games to wrap up the first set after just 29 minutes with a forehand winner.

The loss of the first set prompted a change in tactics from Davenport, who immediately adopted a higher risk strategy of trying to take Williams' serve earlier.

The more aggressive approach paid immediate dividends with a break in the first game of the set. After saving three break points in a lengthy sixth game, Davenport then secured a second break to lead 5-2 before serving out for the set in emphatic style.

Williams got her nose back in front in the fourth game of the third. Davenport had saved one break point but there was nothing she could do on the second when Venus unleashed an unstoppable backhand down the line.

The breakthrough appeared to give Venus a major lift, judging by the shrieks which began to accompany her ferocious groundstrokes, and from then on there was only going to be one winner.

Williams, the champion here in 2000 and 2001 before being dethroned by younger sister Serena last year, was relieved to have come through a tough examination by her compatriot.

"I had to get in there and fight," she said. "Lindsay played so well I had to stay on my toes for the whole match."

Venus came into the tournament on the back of a shock fourth round exit from the French Open and with doubts about her fitness following the abdominal muscle injury which contributed to that defeat.

Although she remains concerned about the possibility of the injury recurring, Williams said she was no longer in any pain.

She also rubbished suggestions that she had lost some of her appetite for tennis after being eclipsed by Serena over the last year.

"I'm just a 23-year-old," she said. "I've won a couple of slams but I'd like to add to the collection and this is the place to do it."


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