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I can’t be beaten: Serena

Paris: Serena Williams believes only one person can stop her retaining the French Open title — Serena Williams.

The all-conquering American set up a quarter final clash with home favourite Amelie Mauresmo by beating Japan’s Ai Sugiyama in straight sets on Sunday. It is now 20 months since she has lost a match at a Grand Slam event, her defeat by sister Venus in the final of the 2001 US Open.

“All the matches I have lost I’ve pretty much beaten myself,” said the top seed at Roland Garros, who missed the 2002 Australian Open through injury but won the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open that year before taking this year’s Australian Open.

“It’s been that way for a couple of years now. Whenever I lose it’s not because the girl I lost to just played an outstanding match. It’s normally because I’m making 80 errors, just not doing the things I need to do.”

Serena was far from at her best in her 7-5, 6-3 win over Sugiyama and accepted she would need to improve against Mauresmo.

“I made a lot of errors. I was slightly off today,” said Williams, who swept aside Austrian Barbara Schett 6-0, 6-0 in the previous round. “I just wasn’t hitting the shots the way I was the other day. I was just a little off. But there’s no need to worry.

Williams knows her French opponent will have the backing of a passionate Roland Garros crowd in the last eight, but she is not concerned. “I’m going to have to play a little bit better than today,” the 21-year-old said. “She’s playing really well and she’s riding on confidence as well.”

Navratilova’s new goal

Not satisfied with the numerous records already bearing her name or with her bulging bank balance, Martina Navratilova is now looking to overhaul Steffi Graf in the prize money stakes.

Navratilova, who at 46 years and three months became the oldest Grand Slam winner as she took the mixed doubles crown at the Australian Open in January, is just over a million dollars short of becoming the women’s leading prize money winner.

While Graf banked $21,895,277, Navratilova has pocketed $20,646,201 during a career spanning four deca des. “I better hurry up and try and win some more. I might beat her then and have the number one spot for a while again,” joked the nine-time Wimbledon champion. But before I probably get there, Serena and Venus (Williams) will get there. (agencies)

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