Tennis: Novotna reign ends before rain arrives

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The Independent Online
SHOWERS RETURNED to Wimbledon yesterday, but not seriously enough to stop a reign. Jana Novotna, the holder, was knocked out by Lindsay Davenport in a women's quarter-final, the first game to be completed as bad weather consistently visited the All England Club.

Today, the weather is forecast to be fair, but weekend conditions are likely to be less favourable, and the All-England club faces the prospect of Monday play for the first time since 1996.

Novotna, who provided moisture of her own when beaten by Steffi Graf in the final of 1993, lost 6-3, 6-4 in 65 minutes. Graf herself was on and off court three times during her quarter with the American Venus Williams. The German took the first set 6-2, but lost control as her match descended into brief appearances. Williams struck back with the second set, 6-3, and was serving to tie the score at 2-2 in the third when the players evacuated the Centre Court yet again.

Davenport, another American, will play one of two qualifiers in her semi- final. Her compatriot, Alex Stevenson, swept through the first set 6-3 against the Australian Jelena Dokic, but trailed her fellow teenager 5- 1 in the second. In the remaining women's quarter, Nathalie Tauziat took the first set off Mirjana Lucic 6-4.

The most progress made in the men's quarter-finals came in the game between Todd Martin and Patrick Rafter. They are locked at 3-3 in their opening set. The only other quarter to get on court, albeit briefly at 4.53, attracted great interest. A Court No 1 crowd enjoyed 13 points, most of which were won to applause by Tim Henman.

Britain's No 1 was on court for eight minutes, during which time he took the first game against Cedric Pioline, the beaten finalist two years ago. The score is deuce on Pioline's serve.

Wimbledon reports, pages 30 and 31

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