Step by step

The Williams bandwagon rolls on. After Venus coasted to a straight sets victory over Alisa Kleybanova, her sister Serena followed her onto No. 2 court and made light work of Bethanie Mattek, brushing aside her fellow American 6-3, 6-3. A repeat of the 2002 and 2003 all-Williams finals is still very much on course.

Mattek’s presence this deep into a Grand Slam tournament came as something of a surprise, particularly in the light of her ranking less than three months ago when she was languishing at No. 153 in the world. Better known as a doubles specialist, the 23-year-old American had to qualify for Roland Garros but went on to make the semi-final at Edgbaston in the run-up to Wimbledon and obviously has a penchant for grass.

The underdog won the toss and elected to serve, but this was a gamble that would backfire as two weak second services and a double fault combined to hand Serena an initiative that she would not relinquish. The 2002 and 2003 champion seemed in extremely determined mood, going so far as to walk all the way round from the umpire’s chair – from whence she had just hit a cross-court winner – to the other end of the net and then to the opposite court at a change-over, presumably to avoid having to give way to her opponent. Her play reflected this mind-set, banging down 115 mph serves and even laying down the odd drop-shot as Mattek was constantly on the back foot.

In a women’s draw already shorn of Ivanovic, Jankovic and Sharapova (not to mention the recently retired Justine Henin), an air of inevitability is fast taking over the second week. With Kuznetsova and Dementieva (or one of the many unseeded surprise packages still going strong) seemingly all that stands in the way of an all-Williams final, the only question is now whether the Venus Rosewater Dish will have to change its name to Serena…


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