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Venus Williams on top of her game

TODAY’S FEATURED MATCHES

All quarterfinals; world rankings in parentheses:

Venus Williams (3), United States vs.

Agnieszka Radwanska (14), Poland

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Williams pronounced herself “just on top of the ball” during her devastating first set with Ana Ivanovic before Ivanovic retired with an injury at 1-6, 1-0. Let’s just say from the look of that set that if Williams stays “on top of the ball,” she would not lose to anyone in the draw, in the world or from any of the nine known planets in the solar system.

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Serena Williams (2), United States vs.

Victoria Azarenka (8), Belarus

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Here’s the matchup of the tournament so far, and it found Williams saying she’s been playing only “solid” thus far. But the game that ravaged Daniela Hantuchova in 56 minutes on Monday qualified as something well north of “solid.”

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Dinara Safina (1), Russia vs.

Sabine Lisicki (41), Germany

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With a comeback win over Amelie Mauresmo on Monday, the quiet No. 1-seeded player won one of those profound battles she has with herself and forged two rounds beyond any of her previous six Wimbledons. It should appeal to people because it’s always inspiring when we overcome ourselves.

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Elena Dementieva (4), Russia vs.

Francesca Schiavone (43), Italy

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Dementieva has reached 27 and has lost only 16 games in four matches -- fewest in the draw -- so some tennis intellectuals would like to see her get one Grand Slam before it’s all over. Other people are just not very nice.

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ENGLISH BREAKFAST

Some people seem weary of Twitter -- not the service, but the subject -- as Wimbledon has gone all atwitter this year. Players field questions about strategies, opponents, conditions and tweets. Andy Roddick’s unfortunate yet bravely forthright tweet about being a Rick Astley fan continues to prove deathless. (“You guys have told everybody.”) Yet while Serena Williams has become a Twitter maven -- “She has MySpace, Facebook and Twitter,” Venus Williams said -- Venus hasn’t bitten. Said Serena with her comic timing, “Yeah, she’s really artsy and into smart things like, I don’t know, she’s into learning languages and getting degrees. [Pause.] I’m into Twitter. [Laughter.] So we’re quite different.”

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BRITMANIA UPDATE

At 10:37 p.m. on Monday, in the dark, on a hill, beside a stadium court, in front of a humongous video screen, a throng of hundreds watched intently from so-called “Murray Mound” as the Hawk-Eye line challenge system reviewed an Andy Murray forehand to ensure it had landed in. It had, and the crowd let out a swelling cheer, and it’s really unusual to stand in the night and watch people cheer a computer.

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YANKS ABROAD

While the families Williams and Roddick remain out of 14 men and nine women, 17-year-old American Melanie Oudin left an impressive wake for a smallish young woman. Her 6-4, 7-5 loss to No. 14 Agnieszka Radwanska featured “two tight and tough sets,” as Radwanska put it, and her fourth-round showing from a qualifier’s inconvenience will vault her into the top 100. With her wins over players ranked 28th, 74th and sixth, and her parents having flown over from Atlanta during the weekend, she tried to come up with one word to describe her fortnight. “Probably ‘amazing,’ ” she said. “Because I’ve just loved it.”

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ALSO MONDAY AT WIMBLEDON

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The strange career of Ivanovic, the 2008 French Open champion who has gone from No. 1 to No. 12, took another odd turn when she retired from her match with Venus Williams, sobbing as she left with a thigh injury. She and Williams hugged, and Ivanovic continued to tear up at her news conference. . . . Geezers made quarterfinals from the resurgent Tommy Haas (age 31) to Ivo Karlovic (30) to Juan Carlos Ferrero (29) to Lleyton Hewitt (28). . . . Sabine Lisicki’s win not only gave the 19-year-old a breakthrough Grand Slam, but it forced the continued stalling of the expected rise of Caroline Wozniacki, the Dane ranked No. 9 and still hunting her first major quarterfinal, yet still only 18. . . . Venus and Serena Williams, the No. 4-seeded team and three-time champions, advanced to the doubles quarterfinals with a 6-0, 6-0 win over 13th-seeded Zi Yan and Jie Zheng of China.

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NEW ROOF UPDATE

The roof has become a star, and it already has begun to take on a haughty air.

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STAT OF THE DAY

128-0: Ivo Karlovic’s record in his service games during the grass-court season, counting four matches at Queen’s Club and four at Wimbledon, as he prepares to play Roger Federer in a quarterfinal.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY

Serena Williams, on how she might find the improved level she thinks she needs for the last three rounds: “Maybe I just need an espresso.”

-- Chuck Culpepper


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