Tennis: Williams sisters get their act together

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The Independent Online
The teenage Williams sisters both won quarter-final matches in the Sydney International tennis tournament yesterday, setting up the possibility of a family affair in the final on Saturday.

The American teenager Serena Williams, playing in only her sixth tour event, had the biggest win of her career by defeating Lindsay Davenport, the world No 3, yesterday to reach the semi-finals at the Sydney international tournament.

Williams, 16, then saw her 17-year-old sister, Venus, thrash Bulgaria's Magdalena Maleeva 6-2, 6-2 for a place in the other semi-final - leaving open the possibility of a Williams family final on Saturday.

Serena appeared to be outclassed and on her way out as she prepared to face two match points at 2-5 in the second set after winning only one game in a first set lasting 20 minutes. But she staged a remarkable comeback, winning 20 of the next 21 points for the second set before beating her fellow American 1-6, 7-5, 7-5 in a match lasting two hours and five minutes.

Davenport's defeat left Spain's Arantxa Sanchez Vicario as the last remaining seed in the women's singles. The top seed Martina Hingis was knocked out by Venus Williams in the first round. Sanchez Vicario, seeded five, beat the unseeded Natasha Zvereva of Belarus 6-1, 6-2 and now faces Serena Williams.

In the men's singles Tim Henman, the British No 2, set up a semi-final with the top seeded Australian, Patrick Rafter, by beating Sweden's Thomas Enqvist in three sets yesterday.

Henman, the defending champion and the 19th-ranked player in the world, dropped the first set before battling back to win 3-6, 7-5, 6-4. Earlier in the day Henman took just 28 minutes to complete a 7-6, 6-4 quarter- final victory over the Spaniard, Albert Portas.

To avoid slipping further in the world rankings next week, Henman must survive the serve-and-volley tactics of the US Open champion Rafter, who hammered America's Todd Martin after losing a tie-break in the second set 6-4, 6-7, 6-1.

Steffi Graf, who has not played since last year's French Open, will make her comeback at a tournament in Tokyo from 2 to 8 February. The former No 1 in the world had no more problems with her left knee and was fit after three weeks of training in Florida.

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