Serena, Henin set US Open showdown
Henin blasts Dinara Safina 6-0, 6-2 to set up a quarterfinal showdown with Serena Williams, who beat Marion Bartoli.Updated: Sep 03, 2007, 18:15 IST
Justine Henin and Serena Williams advanced to a US Open quarterfinal showdown in impressive fashion on Sunday while Wimbledon winner Venus Williams ousted one Serbian star only to be faced with another.
World number one Henin, who took her sixth Grand Slam title in June at the French Open, blasted Russian 15th seed Dinara Safina 6-0, 6-2, while Australian Open winner Serena Williams defeated French 10th seed Marion Bartoli 6-3, 6-4.
Henin already defeated US eighth seed Serena Williams, an eight-time Slam champion, in this year's quarterfinals of the French Open and Wimbledon and is excited about Monday's rematch.
"I know everyone was waiting for that match and here we are," Henin said. "That's why I'm playing tennis, to play this kind of match. I'm very happy I'm going to play her. I hope we can show good tennis. I think it's great for me."
Venus Williams overwhelmed Serbian fifth seed Ana Ivanovic 6-4, 6-2 in a rematch of their Wimbledon semi-final to book a date with Serbian third seed Jelena Jankovic, who beat Austrian 19th seed Sybille Bammer 6-4, 4-6, 6-1.
Jankovic is 3-2 against Venus, defeating her this year in a third-round match at the French Open and a semi-final on her way to a title at Charleston.
"She's a good competitor. She played well and deserved to win," Venus said. "I've definitely improved since then and gotten healthier. I feel a lot better and I've gotten stronger."
Henin, the 2003 US Open champion, had not failed to reach a semi-final this year in winning six titles in 10 starts. She has lost only 11 games in four victories this week after dispatching Safina in 59 minutes.
"I was happy with the way I played. I was consistent from the first point almost to the end," Henin said. "Very aggressive. Went to the net a lot on my serves. I'll need that in my next match and my next few matches I hope."
Henin has a winning career record against all top-20 rivals except the Williams sisters, standing 1-7 against 12th seed Venus, a six-time Slam champion, and 5-6 against Serena ahead of their third Slam match up in a row.
"I'm going in feeling like I don't have anything to lose. I feel excited about the prospect of playing her again," Serena said.
"She's playing well and she's fighting for everything. She believes she can win. Maybe that's what makes it special."
The survivors are title favorites as a weak bottom half of the 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.
"The one who wins the top half will win the tournament," Bartoli said.
Serena, who did not play tune-up events between Wimbledon and the US Open due to a sprained left thumb ligament, became this year's only woman in the final eight of all four Slams with the confidence-building victory.
"It's really up there. A couple weeks ago I wasn't sure I was even going to be here," she said.
"My serve was a lot better than it was in the previous matches," Serena said. "Each match I feel like I've gotten better. I'm still not anywhere near where I want to be but I'm better than where I was."
Serena fired 10 aces, hit 33 of 44 first serves, and made 32 winners against 22 unforced errors to eliminate the Wimbledon runner-up in 76 minutes.
"Her serve, I just almost couldn't return it. I couldn't even see it," said Bartoli. "When you play like somebody serving this well it's hard to win."
"She just elevates her game when she needs to. She's not trying her hardest on every point. She plays some great shots when she needs to."
Venus saved three break points in her first service game, won her only break point of the first set and never dropped her serve, breaking twice in the second set to humble the French Open runner-up in 80 minutes.
"I knew I had to play well because she's so very good," Venus said.