Williams is upset

Published: Saturday, January 24, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 23, 2004 at 11:17 p.m.

MELBOURNE, Australia - Venus Williams was upset 6-4, 7-6 (5) by 25th-seeded Lisa Raymond today in the third round of the Australian Open.

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Former Gator Lisa Raymond raises her arms in celebration after beating Venus Williams.

The Associated Press

The third-seeded Williams saved one match point with a backhand crosscourt winner at 4-6 in the tiebreaker but put a forehand return wide on the next point to end the match.

``In the tiebreak I probably went for too much, too soon,'' Williams said. ``I guess I'll have a lot of time to think about it now.''

It was the first time Williams hasn't reached the quarterfinals in six trips to the Australian Open. It was the biggest upset here since Jennifer Capriati, then defending champion, lost in the first round last year to Marlene Weingartner.

Williams was sidelined with an abdominal injury for six months and was returning to tournament play for the first time since Wimbledon. She played two exhibition matches in Hong Kong before coming to Melbourne and having straight-sets wins in the first two rounds.

For Raymond, a former top-ranked doubles player, it was her first win over Venus Williams, who left the court immediately.

Raymond, a former Gator, said it was the match of her life.

``I couldn't ask anything more of myself today,'' she said. ``I think I played an incredible match.

``It's pretty difficult to play someone who is serving like that today. I came into this match knowing I had to step up to the plate and go for it - it's the only way I was going to win.''

Williams had 44 unforced errors. She served 14 aces and 40 winners, but no match for Raymond's pinpoint forehands.

Raymond, 30, had 23 winners, including 14 on her forehand side. She broke Williams twice to take a 3-0 lead and forced an error to win the first set on her fifth set point.

The pair traded breaks to open third before Raymond held to lead 3-1.

Williams finally got her serve working, firing three aces in the next game and then breaking Raymond to level at 3-3. She served another two aces, including one at 120 mph to take a 4-3 lead, but Raymond won her next service game at love.

Williams opened the tiebreaker with an ace before Raymond won the next four points. Williams leveled it at 4-4 with an ace. She served a fault, a let and then Raymond pounced on the second serve with a backhand that forced an error to establish a 5-4 lead.

Raymond had never gone beyond the third-round at Melbourne Park. Her best performance in a Grand Slam tournament was the quarterfinals at Wimbledon in 2000.

The second match on center court overshadowed Wimbledon champion Roger Federer's 6-3, 6-0, 6-1 rout of teenage wild-card entry Todd Reid.

Federer, seeded second, dropped serve in the fifth game of the first set, then reeled off 14 consecutive games to win the first two sets and take a 4-0 lead in the third.

The 22-year-old Swiss star won eight of the last nine points to finish off the match in 74 minutes.

Reid, 19, struggled through the second round in a grueling five-set win over Armenia's Sargis Sargsian.

Federer didn't give him any reprieve, firing 31 winners and earning his third straight-sets win in three rounds to match his best performance in the season-opening Grand Slam event.

``I played well, had my difficulties in the start, but it went better in the end,'' Federer said. ``I'm just happy to be again through to the fourth round. I hope I can go better this time.''

Federer will face the winner of a night match between Australia's Lleyton Hewitt, a former U.S. Open and Wimbledon champion, and 17-year-old Spaniard Rafael Nadal.

French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero played Sweden's Joachim Johansson later today.

In women's third-round singles, ninth-seeded Chanda Ruben beat Russian Elena Likhovtseva 6-3, 6-2; 20th-seeded Silvia Farina Elia of Italy rallied for a 4-6, 6-1, 7-5 win over American Amy Frazier; and 29th-seeded Nathalie Dechy of France took two hours to beat Japan's Saori Obata 7-5, 6-1.

No. 2 Kim Clijsters faced Dinara Safina later today.

In the men's doubles, top-seeded Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan rallied for a 6-7 (7), 7-6 (3), 6-0 win over Argentine pair Martin Garcia and Sebastien Prieto in the second round.

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