WiIliams wiped out by 15-year-old Bulgarian

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If Sesil Karatantcheva was not a big name in Bulgaria before, she is now. The 15-year-old product of Nick Bollettieri's Tennis Academy in Florida eliminated Venus Williams, the former world No 1, in the fourth round at the French Open last night,

If Sesil Karatantcheva was not a big name in Bulgaria before, she is now. The 15-year-old product of Nick Bollettieri's Tennis Academy in Florida eliminated Venus Williams, the former world No 1, in the fourth round at the French Open last night,

In truth, the 11th-seeded Williams virtually eliminated herself with unforced errors, 6-3, 1-6, 6-1. None the less, the 15-year-old, who won the junior title here last year, is evidently a force to be reckoned with.

More than a year ago she said she would "kick Maria Sharapova's ass" at the Indian Wells tournament.

Sharapova beat her in three sets, but Karatantcheva, unabashed, shrugged that off and pressed on with a determination that might have surprised those who remembered her saying she was bored by tennis when her father introduced her to the sport before her sixth birthday.

Williams, who won her first title for more than a year in Istanbul last week, was disgusted with her performance. "Well done to her," she said, "but if I had played 10 per cent better I would have won easily."

"She wasn't the Venus I saw on TV when I started out," Karatancheva said, "but I like that I won, no matter what."

A decent week in Europe for Spaniards named Rafael continued. Rafael Nadal, the 18-year-old fourth seed from Majorca, advanced to the fourth round of his first French Open at the expense of Richard Gasquet, the young local hero.

In contrast to Rafael Benitez, the Liverpool manager, Nadal did not have to inspire a dramatic comeback. He defeated Gasquet, 6-4, 6-3, 6-2, after an hour and 49 minutes.

Only 15 days separate the players in terms of age, though Nadal, the older, showed the greater physical and mental strength. Gasquet might be only the second player to have beaten Roger Federer, the world No 1, this year, but Nadal, winning his 20th match in a row, underlined why he is the holder of two ATP Masters Series titles on clay.

The Centre Court's 23,000 seats were filled in anticipation of the unofficial world intermediate title fight, but the combination of Nadal's power and Gasquet's nervous lapses on vital points rendered the event something of an anti-climax for the French.

Disappointing though the contest was, there is no reason for anyone to despair. This could be merely the first of many contests between Nadal and Gasquet in major arenas, particularly on clay courts. Moreover, Gasquet, who trains at Roland Garros, has ample time for his abundant talent to be fine-tuned.

Gasquet seemed drained after the opening two sets, and called a doctor to the court before the start of the third set. "I had problems with the heat," he said. He fought back from 0-2 to 2-2, only for Nadal to run through the last four games with the loss of one point.

Nadal is due to play another French opponent, the experienced Sébastien Grosjean, the 23rd seed, tomorrow.

Grosjean overcame the Czech 16th seed, Radek Stepanek, 6-1, 4-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, after four hours.

Roger Federer, the world No 1, will play Nadal's fellow Majorcan, Carlos Moya, the 1998 champion, for a place in the quarter-finals.

Moya, who had to nurse a sore shoulder through his gruelling match with Fernando Vincente, may be at a disadvantage. Moya edged it, 6-4, 7-6, 6-7, 0-6, 6-4, after three hours and 51 minutes.

Federer, the Wimbledon champion, gradually wore down the aggressive Chilean 25th seed, Fernando Gonzalez, 7-6, 7-5, 6-2.

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