Venus continues perfect run through draw
Updated: Tuesday September 04, 2001 4:06 AM
NEW YORK (Reuters) -- Defending champion Venus Williams disposed of French veteran Sandrine Testud 6-4, 6-0 Monday to reach the quarterfinals at the U.S. Open, then admitted that so far she had been coasting.
Williams, the fourth seed, opened the match erratically and fell 2-4 behind before winning the next 10 games to earn a meeting with Belgian fifth seed Kim Clijsters, this year's French Open runner-up.
Williams, who has not dropped a set at the Open, said she had confidence she could pull her game together whenever she needed to.
"If I'm feeling good, especially mentally, I have a clear vision of how I want the game to go and how I want the ball to be," she said.
"So when I feel like this, I don't have to work very hard. And I think that's what it has been in this past week.
"Whenever I get down a break or if things feel a little tight, I feel as if I can get out of there."
Williams, who is trying to repeat last year's Grand Slam double of Wimbledon and U.S. Open titles, said she had been conserving her strength.
"In the first week, I practice harder, but I try to pace myself because I'm playing a Grand Slam," said Williams.
"I just seem to play better as the tournament goes on. Like at Wimbledon, I was playing quite bad in the beginning rounds.
"But as soon as I got to the semifinals, I was able to play a lot better. I'm hoping this will be the same thing."
One of the hardest hitters in women's tennis, she said that nowadays she picked her spots.
"I don't really hit the ball as hard as I can anymore -- just when I have to," said Williams, who has never lost before the semifinals at Flushing Meadows.
"If I'm playing a more important match, I try to use my power to bully my opponent. Why not?
"But nowadays, I'm just coasting."
In addition, "I don't run as much as I used to when I was younger," the 21-year-old American said.
"I'm a lot smarter now."
Asked what she knew about Clijsters, she said she had seen her sister, Serena, play the Belgian several times.
"She's strong, she runs well, she's a great competitor," Williams said.
Against Testud, Williams made only 39 percent of her serves but was broken on service just once in the 54-minute match.
"That was dismal," Williams said.
"These days I'm serving at least 55 percent. On a good day it's like 65 percent. So if I served like 70, it would be a nightmare -- for my opponent," she said with a big smile.
"But it hasn't happened yet."
Williams could meet her 10th-seeded sister in the final, but Serena has to beat third seed Lindsay Davenport to get to the semifinals, where she could meet top seed Martina Hingis. Venus could face second seed Jennifer Capriati in the semis.
"Sure, we'd love for both of us to be in the final," she said.
"But we still have a tough way to go."
They have met in two singles finals, both in 1999. Venus won in Miami and Serena won in the Grand Slam Cup in Germany.
For all her apparent nonchalance, Venus Williams said Sunday's doubles loss partnered with her sister had changed her attitude.
"After that doubles loss yesterday, I was really upset," she said. "I love doubles and I love winning doubles with Serena.
"And I've really changed. I was pretty friendly before that, but now I don't really talk to anyone. I talk to you guys, but I have to or else I'll be fined," she told reporters with a laugh.
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