Wimbledon `97: Fernandez and Zvereva aiming for fourth title

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Gigi Fernandez and Natasha Zvereva, who were once to Wimbledon's women's doubles title what cream is to strawberries, made it to the semi-finals yesterday to encourage thoughts of a fourth championship.

The top seeds, winners in 1992, 1993 and 1994 and who collected six successive Grand Slam titles in the early 90s, defeated Mary Joe Fernandez and Lisa Raymond 5-7, 6-4, 6-4. However, the woman who faced them in all three of their successful finals will not be around to resist them.

Jana Novotna withdrew from the event yesterday as a precaution for today's singles final. The Czech, with Lindsay Davenport the third seeds, has a slight strain of the right hamstring and decided to pull out at the quarter-final stage, allowing the 12th-seeded Sabine Appelmans and Miriam Oremans a walkover.

Neil Broad, expected to play doubles for Britain in the Davis Cup tie against the Ukraine in Kiev next week, reached the mixed doubles quarter- finals to be the last home survivor in any of the five championship events.

Broad and his South African partner, Mariaan de Swardt, beat the last remaining all-British couple, Danny Sapsford and Shirli-Ann Siddall, 7- 5, 6-3 in their third-round match.

Sapsford and Siddall could have gained the first break in the opening set when they held three break points at 5-5 on De Swardt's service. However, they failed to take their chance and Siddall dropped her serve in the following game as Broad and De Swardt ran out 7-5 winners.

Siddall dropped her service again in the fourth game of the second set as the British duo went 1-3 down, and Broad and De Swardt went on to lead 5-3.

Broad served for the match and had two match points at 40-15 only for Siddall to hit a forehand winner and Broad to net a backhand volley for the British pair to pull back to deuce. But two good serves from Broad settled the issue.

Hannah Collin, who at 15 is the girl most likely to lead British women's tennis beyond the millennium, moved into the last eight of the 18 and under girls' championship with a 6-1, 6-4 win over Japan's Rika Fujiwara.

Home interest in the boys' singles ended in a familiar manner, however, when the top seed, Germany's Daniel Elsner, defeated Adrian Barnes 6-2 6-1. Shades of Michael Stich and Tim Henman.

Mark Petchey, who reached the third round at Wimbledon before losing to Boris Becker, heads the entry list for the Challenger tournament starting at Bristol on Monday. Five other British players - Nick Weal, a surprise finalist last year, Danny Sapsford, Luke Milligan, Jamie Delgado and Colin Beecher - are all in the main draw.