Switzerland's Martina Hingis has been beaten in three sets at Wimbledon by one of her biggest rivals, America's Venus Williams. The defeat ends Swiss participation in this year's tournament.
There was no doubt going into the game that Williams would prove to be Hingis's most serious challenge so far. But the world number one appeared to be in good form, having reached the quarterfinals without dropping a single set.
Hingis also had history on her side. In their off-court verbal warfare the two women have often been well matched, but on it the Swiss player has always been at an advantage. With nine wins to five against the older of the Williams sisters, Hingis had never lost to Venus in a Grand Slam event - until now.
Neither history nor world rankings seemed to be bothering Williams as she took an early grip on the match. After a tight opening period, in which the first seven games went with serve, Williams finally broke Hingis to take a 5-3 lead. Hingis looked to be fighting back in the next game, forcing Williams to deuce on her serve, but the American held on to take the opening set 6-3.
In the second set Hingis was able to claw back, as both players struggled to dominate with serve. The Swiss player was actually the first to be broken but then won three games in a row to go 5-3 up. Needing only to serve for the set, Hingis again faltered but then broke Williams in the next game to force the match into a deciding set.
The tension seemed to do little for the players' service games. Incredibly the next five games all went against serve. Williams finally held her serve to go 4-2 up. Hingis responded by holding her own serve but was still one break down. After the next two games went with serve, Williams found herself serving for the match. By now she had found her rhythm and Hingis was powerless to avoid a painful defeat.
Hingis's exit came just 24 hours after Switzerland's Marc Rosset failed to make it into the men's quarterfinals. The country's top male player went down in five sets to the German outsider, Alexander Popp.
by Mark Ledsom
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