| Top seeds Mahesh Bhupathi and Paola Suarez in between points during their second round mixed doubles match against Americans Jared Palmer and Abigail Spears at Wimbledon
London: A double-barrelled shootout between the United States and Belgium looms in the Wimbledon women’s semi-finals after Serena and Venus Williams, Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin-Hardenne reached the last four on Tuesday.
Defending champion and top seed Serena won a tension-packed quarter final battle with compatriot Jennifer Capriati 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 in the game of the day to set up a semi-final grudge rematch with Henin.
The Belgian third seed, who controversially beat Serena in the French Open semi-finals last month, demolished Russian debutante Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-2, 6-2.
Henin’s compatriot Clijsters, the Belgian second seed, overcame a painful bee sting to beat Italian Sylvia Farina Elia 5-7, 6-0, 6-1 and reach the Wimbledon semi-finals for the first time.
She faces a semi-final against fourth seed Venus, the 2000 and 2001 champion, who maintained her Grand Slam domination over fellow American Lindsay Davenport on Centre Court with a 6-2, 2-6, 6-1 success.
Serena’s draining victory had Centre Court spellbound as she recovered from a first-set drubbing to avenge her 2001 quarter final defeat by Capriati.
On Court I Farina, 31, produced a gutsy display to steal the first set off Clijsters having saved three set points at 4-5. The Belgian later revealed she had suffered a bee sting to her stomach at the vital moment of the 10th game.
Duly stung into action, the Belgian stormed through the next two sets in 43 minutes, only two minutes longer than the first set had taken.
Clijsters was rampant, with her sledgehammer forehand creating havoc. She won nine successive games and wrapped up victory in stupendous style with three successive aces.
Venus’ win in a see-saw match against Davenport, the 1999 champion, was her third successive win over her compatriot at the All England Club.
Henin was unbothered by Kuznetsova as she marched into a semi-final meeting with Serena, who accused the Belgian of “lying and fabricating” during her three-set semi-final win in Paris. Their rematch promises to be a game to remember.
In men’s action, Juan Carlos Ferrero failed in his bid to become the first Spaniard to reach the Wimbledon quarter finals for 31 years when he lost 2-6, 6-4, 6-7, 6-7 to Sebastien Grosjean.
Grosjean’s win set up a quarter final on Wednesday against Britain’s Tim Henman. Despite the defeat, Ferrero’s run to the fourth round was the 23-year-old Spaniard’s best showing at Wimbledon. In his absence, Swiss fourth seed Roger Federer is the highest men’s seed left.
However, Federer may have an easy passage to the semis. His opponent, eighth seed Sjeng Schalken may be forced to pull out before his quarter final tie on Wednesday because of a painful foot.
Paes-Rikl in last four
Former teammates Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi headed for a semi-final showdown in the men’s doubles event.
While Paes and David Rikl of Czech Republic entered the semi-finals upsetting third seeded Bryan brothers, Bob and Michael, of the US 6-2, 6-7 (5/7), 6-2, 6-3, top seeds Bhupathi and Max Mirnyi of Belarus moved into the quarters with a 7-6 (7/4), 6-3, 6-3 victory over the Argentinian team of Gaston Eltis and Martin Rodriguez.
Bhupathi also moved into the third round of the mixed doubles, as he combined with Paola Suarez of Argentina to defeat the American pair of Jared Palmer and Abigail Spears 6-4, 6-7 (2/7), 6-1.
Somdev Dev Varman bowed out of the boys’ singles when he was defeated by Devin Mullings of Bahamas 7-6 (7-3), 5-7, 6-1 in the first round.
Sania Mirza lost the second round match of the girls’ singles to Eden Marama (NZ) 2-6, 6-3, 1-6.
Vijay and Anand Amritraj won their over-45 doubles match against Owen Davidson and John Newcombe of Australia 6-2, 6-2.