Blake misses quarters; Shaughnessy advances to quarterfinals; Blake loses

Posted: Monday, January 20, 2003

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Meghann Shaughnessy saved five break points in the final game and advanced to the Australian Open quarterfinals with a 5-7, 6-2, 6-4 victory over Elena Bovina on Monday.

Meanwhile, Rainer Schuettler made the most of 2002 runner-up Marat Safin's withdrawal by reaching the final eight with a 6-3, 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 victory over James Blake.

Shaughnessy, a 23-year-old American who's seeded 25th, reached the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam event for the first time by winning her 11th straight match to start the year. Before the Australian, she won a warmup tournament in Canberra.

Serving for the match against Bovina, a U.S. Open quarterfinalist last year, Shaughnessy saved break points with an error by the 19-year-old Russian, a service winner, an overhead smash, an inside-out forehand and an ace.

After another service winner, she finished the 2-hour, 19-minute match when the 20th-seeded Bovina netted a backhand serve return.

Shaughnessy's previous best showing in a major came at the 2001 French Open and Wimbledon, where she reached the fourth round.

Schuettler gained a free pass into the fourth round when Safin withdrew with a wrist injury after falling in an earlier match.

Schuettler, a 26-year-old German who had never reached a Grand Slam quarterfinal before, rebounded from early service breaks by Blake in the first two sets.

In the final set, the two traded service breaks in the fourth and fifth games, and Schuettler gained the key break in the sixth when Blake double-faulted. Schuettler finished with a forehand down the line that Blake couldn't handle at the net.

The 23-year-old Blake, playing in a Grand Slam event's fourth round for the first time, had 35 errors, compared with 19 by Schuettler.

On Sunday, Venus Williams waltzed into the quarterfinals, while Justine Henin-Hardenne just about had to crawl there, writhing with leg cramps near the end of her three-set victory over Lindsay Davenport.

''I thought I was going to die,'' Henin-Hardenne said. ''But I played with heart and just went for it.''

After being treated with ice on the court, the Belgian defeated the once top-ranked Davenport 7-5, 5-7, 9-7 in 3 hours, 13 minutes.

Williams enjoyed a far easier outing Sunday, beating Nicole Pratt of Australia 6-3, 6-2 in 77 minutes. Williams is on course for a possible semifinal with Henin-Hardenne and a potential fourth straight Grand Slam final against younger sister Serena.

Henin-Hardenne had just missed on one match point and was tied 7-7 with Davenport. Then she was down on the court, clutching her leg. Following her courtside treatment, Henin-Hardenne went back out for her second serve at 0-15 and whipped an ace into the far corner.

Davenport said she knew Henin-Hardenne would return to the court, even to ''just stand there.'' Instead, Davenport said, ''she was running for some balls and coming up with some good shots and still serving quite well and at a fairly high speed.''

The contest fell eight games and 20 minutes short of the Australian Open record for longest women's match. In 1996, Chanda Rubin, who is in the fourth round this year, beat Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario 6-4, 2-6, 16-14 in 3:33.

The fifth-seeded Henin-Hardenne won the first set and went up 4-1 in the second. But Davenport won 10 of the next 12 games and led 4-1 lead in the final set. After Henin-Hardenne broke serve three times to make it 5-5 -- rebounding from 40-15 in the eighth game -- Davenport saved a match point in the 14th and reached 7-all.

Henin-Hardenne was in pain and cramping after the match.

''I hope it's just a cramp,'' she said.

Henin-Hardenne next plays 63rd-ranked Virginia Ruano Pascual of Spain, a 6-3, 6-3 winner over 62nd-ranked Denisa Chladkova of the Czech Republic.

This was Henin-Hardenne's first victory in six meetings with Davenport, who missed most of last season after knee surgery but came back to reach the U.S. Open semifinals.

Venus, seeded second, saved 11 break points in her victory over Pratt. She next plays No. 7 Daniela Hantuchova, who extended Venus to three sets at the Australian Open last year and is in her third consecutive Grand Slam quarterfinal. Hantuchova beat No. 12 Patty Schnyder 7-5, 6-3.

Serena, who beat Venus for the title in the French Open, U.S. Open and Wimbledon last year, plays her fourth-round match Monday against No. 18 Eleni Daniilidou of Greece. She missed last year's Australian Open with a twisted ankle.

Among the men, three-time champion Andre Agassi advanced when Argentina's Guillermo Coria quit with foot problems while trailing 6-1, 3-1.

''I'll certainly be rested and ready to go,'' said Agassi, who won this tournament in 1995, 2000 and 2001 but skipped it last year because of an injury.

He will meet 2001 semifinalist Sebastien Grosjean, a 3-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 winner over Spain's Felix Mantilla. It was Mantilla's fourth consecutive five-set match.

Two days before the tournament's start, Agassi beat Grosjean in the final of the Kooyong Classic.

In another quarterfinal, No. 4 Juan Carlos Ferrero, the French Open runner-up, will meet Wayne Ferreira, playing his 49th consecutive Grand Slam event and trying for his first major semifinal since the 1992 Australian Open.



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