Top-ranked, top-seeded Serena Williams staged an extraordinary final set fightback to beat Britain's Heather Watson 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 in the third round of women's singles at Wimbledon on Friday to set up a blockbuster fourth-round showdown with sister Venus.

    Williams, bidding for a sixth Wimbledon title and a calendar Grand Slam, was on the brink of a dramatic third-round exit when Watson served for the match at 5-4 in the final set. But Serena, who had trailed 3-0 in the decider, showed why she has won 20 Grand Slam titles as she broke back before finally sealing an epic escape in two hours and 14 minutes in front of an enthralled 15,000-strong crowd on Centre Court.

    Serena's 53 winners and 13 aces were just enough overcome her 33 unforced errors in the match of the tournament to date.

    "I've had some tough losses but that was probably my toughest match, playing Heather in front of her home crowd," Williams said. "She played unbelievable and really I think she should have won the match.

    "She was up two breaks and she just really gave her all and showed us what a great player she is."

    The 33-year-old American will face 16th seed Venus on Monday for the first time in a Grand Slam since beating her in the 2009 Wimbledon final. The sisters' last meeting came in 2014 when Venus won in Montreal, but Serena holds a 14-11 advantage over the 35-year-old in their career head to head.

    They have clashed five times previously at Wimbledon, with Serena winning three times and Venus twice.

    "Venus is in better form than I am, so I think she has a little bit of an advantage going into that match. But at least one of us will be in the quarter-finals, so that will be good," Serena added.

    Gritty recovery

    Faced with the prospect of a third successive early departure from Wimbledon, Serena had to dig deep to keep alive her hopes of becoming the first woman since Steffi Graf in 1988 to win all four Grand Slams in the calendar year.

    The gritty recovery extended her winning streak in the majors at 24 matches -- a blistering run that started after her third round loss to Alize Cornet at Wimbledon 12 months ago and has brought her the 2014 US Open crown and titles at the Australian and French Opens this year.

    While Serena breathed a sigh of relief, world number 59 Watson departed to a standing ovation after narrowly failing to become the first British woman to beat a reigning world number one since Sue Barker defeated Chris Evert in 1979.

    Watson had a poster of Serena on her bedroom wall as a tennis-mad child growing up in the Channel Island of Guernsey. But the dream of facing her idol initially turned sour as Watson was overpowered in the first set, with the American breaking in the fourth game and again in the eighth to take the lead in just 25 minutes.

    But Williams, facing a Briton at Wimbledon for the first time, appeared rattled by Watson's tenacity and the fervour of the crowd's support for their compatriot in the second set. A series of miscues from the increasingly anxious Serena allowed Watson to break at 4-4 and she couldn't stop the Briton levelling the match.

    It was the first set Serena had dropped in the tournament and another stream of errors gave Watson two breaks for a scarcely believable 3-0 lead in the final set.

    Crucially, Serena stopped the bleeding with a break in a marathon 10-minute fourth game and she broke again to level at 3-3.

    Remarkably, Williams stumbled again at 4-4 as Watson battled her way to another break. But Serena refused to surrender and she broke back at the fourth attempt when Watson served for the match.

    That set the stage for a sensational finale as Watson staved off two match points at 6-5 before Serena finally completed her great escape.

US may bypass UN over Syria after Russian ‘veto’ stand

  • PTI, Washingtonp
  • |
  • Updated: Aug 29, 2013 09:53 IST

Russia’s decision to veto any move towards armed intervention in Syria may make the US bypass the UN Security Council course. A strong indication to this effect was given by US state department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf soon after the the face-off in the UN Security Council meeting.

Expressing disappointment over the Russian decision to veto any move towards armed intervention in Syria, the United States has said that there is "no point" in going forward in the UN Security Council.

"We see no avenue forward given continued Russian opposition to any meaningful council action on Syria. Therefore, the United States will continue its consultations and will take appropriate actions to respond in the days ahead," Harf told reporters at her press conference on Wednesday.

Referring to the resolution moved by Britain on Syria at the UN headquarters in New York, Harf expressed America's disappointment on the stand taken by Russia on this issue.

"My understanding is that we heard nothing different from the Russians in today's meeting than we have for months and, indeed, years about Syria," she said.

"Last week, the Russians blocked a potential press statement condemning the attack without even assigning culpability. So we have no reason to believe that efforts at the Security Council would be any different than these previous efforts that have failed," she argued, throwing up a strong indication that that the US and its allies are gearing up to bypass the UN Security Council in this regard.

However, in Geneva, the joint special representative of the UN and the League of Arab States for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi said that the international law is clear on military strikes.

"The international law says that the military action must be taken after a decision by the Security Council. What will happen, then again, I don’t know," he said.   

Harf said the US had consistently said that it supported the UN Security Council action. 

"Instead, what we've seen - not just today, not just last week, but over the course of many months. Are the Russians at every move doing things to fail to hold the Syrian regime accountable," she asked.

"They’ve had three resolutions vetoed. They’ve blocked many other statements condemning the Syrian regime. So we do not believe that the Syrian regime should not be able to hide behind the fact that the Russians continue to block action on Syria at the UN, and we will make our decisions on appropriate action going forward, and we will stay in close consultation with the United Nations, with the Secretary General, with our partners on the P-5 and around the world," she said.

The United Nations, she said, is an important venue. "In terms of a vote, we don’t see an avenue going forward with a vote given continued Russian opposition," Harf said.

The US, she said, believes that it's important to send a strong message that this type of mass-scale, indiscriminate use of chemical weapons is not acceptable.

 

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