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Serena advances to US Open quarters

sports Updated: Sep 03, 2007 01:10 IST

Eight-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams advanced to the US Open quarter-finals, and a possible showdown with top seed Justine Henin, by beating France's 10th-seeded Marion Bartoli 6-3, 6-4 on Sunday.

Williams, who did not play tuneup events between Wimbledon and the US Open due to a left thumb injury, became the only woman to reach the quarter-finals in all four Grand Slams this year.

The reigning Australian Open champion fired 10 aces, connecting on 33 of 44 first serves, and made 32 winners against 22 unforced errors to eliminate the Wimbledon runner-up in 76 minutes in a confidence-boosting triumph.

"It's really up there. A couple weeks ago I wasn't sure I was even going to be here," she said. "If my serve is feeling good I know my game is good."

Serena will next face the winner of a night match between world number one Justine Henin of Belgium and Russian 15th seed Dinara Safina. Henin defeated Serena Williams in the quarter-finals of the French Open and Wimbledon.

"We love to play each other in the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam," Serena said. "Hopefully this time I can win one."

Henin has a winning career record against every top-20 rival except the Williams sisters, having gone 5-6 against Serena Williams and 1-7 against reigning Wimbledon champion Venus Williams, like Henin a six-time Slam winner.

And reigning French Open champion Henin might have to beat both siblings to reach the final from a difficult half of the draw that also includes Serbia's third-seeded Jelena Jankovic and fifth-seeded Ana Ivanovic.

Ivanovic and US 12th seed Venus Williams will meet in a later rematch of a Wimbledon semi-final that the American won 6-2, 6-4. Jankovic meets Austrian 19th seed Sybille Bammer in another later match.

Serena Williams, who beat Bartoli in their only prior meeting at a 2003 Miami quarter-final, surrendered a break to the Frenchwoman to open the match, but broke back on a Bartoli double fault to 2-2.

"I thought I started out well but it just didn't go the way I planned," said Serena. "But it worked out pretty good I guess."

Williams took advantage of her next break point in the eighth game with a backhand crosscourt winner to seize a 5-3 lead and then held for the first set.

Bartoli netted a backhand to surrender a break that gave Williams a 3-2 lead and the American held to the finish, ending matters with two aces.

Henin, the 2003 US Open champion, has a 4-0 career record against Safina, the younger sister of 2000 US Open men's winner Marat Safin.

Henin, 25, was a champion in six of her 10 prior events this year, including a third consecutive Roland Garros crown. She has dropped only nine games in three matches at the year's final Grand Slam tournament.

Safina, 21, also has not dropped a set this week but has never taken a set off the Belgian star.

The opposite half of the women's draw lost 2006 winner Maria Sharapova on Saturday and features four teens with the only remaining past US Open champion being Russian fourth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova.