Federer, Williams sisters crash out in Beijing
The Beijing Olympics tennis tournament came alive on Thursday as Roger Federer and Serena and Venus Williams all went crashing out of the singles at the quarter-final stage.
Federer dreams of an Olympic singles gold medal were shattered first as he lost 6-4, 7-6(2) to American eighth seed James Blake on Centre Court.
Then it was Serenas turn, as the American fourth seed lost 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 to Russian Elena Dementieva, the tournament’s number five seed.
They say things come in threes, and so they did. As the local time approached midnight, Centre Court erupted as China’s Li Na beat Venus Williams 7-5, 7-5 in front of a packed house.
The days play finally began under lights in Beijing after heavy rain had delayed the start of day fives order of play.
Things began to look bad for Roger Federer when Blake broke to take the first set 6-4 and then raced into a 3-0 second set lead.
The Swiss world No.1 clawed his way back into the match, but Blake finished the job with a near-perfect display in the second set tie-break, which he took 7-2.
“I always believed in myself,” said Blake. “I’d lost to him eight, nine, 10, 50 times, I don’t know how many, but I had the feeling it could be my day.
“He didn’t play a good first game and that put me up straight away. I played loose and free and I always fancy my chances on the 5-4 game.
“I know I can beat the best in the world on my day and I proved it.”
The American plays Chile’s Fernando Gonzalez in the last four after the South American beat Frenchman Paul Henri Mathieu 6-4, 6-4.
In the bottom half, the dream Novak Djokovic-Rafael Nadal semi-final was confirmed as both won quarter-final matches.
Serbia’s Djokovic needed three sets to see off another Frenchman, Gael Monfils, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, while second seeded Spaniard Nadal crushed Austrian Jurgen Melzer 6-0, 6-4.
In the women’s event, Serena started well against Dementieva, but slowly things started to unravel for her as the match wore on.
The Russian looked like she was about to walk the final set when she led 5-0 and although Williams managed a brief recovery, Dementieva held her nerve and took her place in the last four.
There she will take on compatriot and ninth seed Vera Zvonareva after she battled her way past unseeded Austrian Sybille Bammer 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.
Venus also led early on as she opened up a 4-2 first set lead over world No.42 Li.
But the Chinese player rallied to produce the performance of her career and put her two wins away from a gold medal at her home Olympics.
The final quarter-final between second seed Jelena Jankovic and Dinara Safina is yet to be played and is due on court on Friday.
Blake (USA) Vs Gonzalez (Chi)
Djokovic (Srb) Vs Nadal (Esp)
Zvonareva (Rus) Vs Dementieva (Rus)
Li (Chi) Vs Safina (Rus) or Jankovic (Srb)
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