Golovin rewarded with Williams tie

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The Independent Online

The youngest will play the best in the quarter-finals of the women's competition after a brisk culmination to a rain-delayed match yesterday.

Tatiana Golovin emerged into more clement weather to rattle off three straight games to complete a 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 defeat of Emmanuelle Gagliardi, of Switzerland. The 16-year-old's reward is an encounter with the No 1 seed and defending champion, Serena Williams.

Golovin, who was born in Moscow but moved to Paris aged eight months as the family followed her father's ice hockey coach job, is not disturbed by the assignment ahead. Rather she considers it something of an honour to be playing Williams and might even have to suppress the urge to ask for the American's autograph.

"I'm already very excited to be in the fourth round," she said. "Playing Serena is going to be amazing. It's my second time playing against somebody in the top 10."

Golovin also reached the fourth round at the Australian Open, beating two seeds along the way. Her scream through the rankings (she is now No 50 after starting the season at No 365) was also aided by her pre-tournament effort at Birmingham. In that final, Golovin lost to fellow teenager and the second youngest survivor in the Wimbledon draw, Maria Sharapova, a former hitting partner.

In the bottom half, Lindsay Davenport, the 1999 champion, faces Karolina Sprem after a 6-4, 6-4 beating of an emotional Vera Zvonareva. Davenport is still only 28, but seems to have been around for as long as Stonehenge.

The dominoes appear to be falling her way this year as many seeds, most notably Anastasia Myskina and Venus Williams, have been removed from her path.

It was like this five years ago when at the semi-final stage, Davenport had the unsung fellow American Alex Stevenson thrown to her.

"I remember thinking, 'Oh my God, you had better not blow it. This is the best opportunity you're ever going to get in a Grand Slam final'," she said. "I think Sprem is a different story. She's probably ranked in the top 40 or 50 and in 1999 it was a qualifier. I mean, she's beaten some very good players here."

Davenport's path was considerably eased when Zvonareva cracked up after losing a serve. The 19-year-old, one of the more adept racket throwers on the circuit, burst into tears at the changeround.

"Probably the only thing that is holding her back maybe is mentally," the American said. "She does have a temper. It seems that she has to get over some hump. You can't be crying. Who knows what's going on with her, but it seems like a bizarre time to be that upset."

Davenport long ago worked out how to keep the chains around her feelings. While the possibility of matching her 1999 final defeat of Steffi Graf grows as the competition develops, there are no bold predictions from the woman from California. "Some tournaments I thought for sure I'm going to win and I haven't. Others I thought there's no way and I've come through to win," she said.