Venus Williams powered into the Wimbledon quarterfinals today by trouncing the player who bounced her sister out of the tournament a day earlier.
Volleying with authority for the first time and showing an all-court game which could make her a real title threat, Williams needed just 62 minutes to beat Virginia Ruano-Pascual 6-3, 6-1.Also advancing to the quarterfinals were defending champion Mar-tina Hingis, last year's runnerup Jana Novotna and French Open champion Arantxa Sanchez Vicario.
The top-seeded Hingis beat Thailand's Tamarine Tanasugarn 6-3, 6-2, No. 3 Novotna downed No. 10 Irina Spirlea 6-2, 6-3 and No. 5 Sanchez Vicario rallied for a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 win over Dominique Van Roost.
Williams will face Novotna in the quarters, while Hingis will play Sanchez Vicario.
On Monday, the prospect of a fourth-round meeting between Venus and her sister was dashed when 16-year-old Serena Williams failed to get past Ruano-Pascual. Citing a calf injury, Serena quit the third-round match while trailing 7-5, 4-1.
Venus avenged that result by overwhelming the 47th-ranked Spaniard with her best performance so far, mixing big serves and groundstrokes with lobs, drop shots and winning volleys.
In previous matches, Williams had been reluctant to go to net, a tactic that many believe she needs to master in order to win on grass.
But today she was an imposing force at the net, taking full advantage of her height - 6-foot-1 1/2-inches - and long arms. She attacked on every short ball and won more than 20 points at the net.
The match ended, fittingly, with Williams coming in behind a serve return and punching a forehand volley which Ruano-Pascual could barely reach.
While Serena had neglected to shake hands with the Spaniard after quitting Monday's match, Venus stood at the net and exchanged handshakes.
Hingis got off to a slow start, losing serve in the first game and struggling to find her rhythm. But she won the next four games and breezed to victory over her 42nd-ranked opponent.
"I had a little bit of a problem at the beginning to get into it," Hingis said. "The second set was much better. I was always more aggressive and controlling the games and the points."
Hingis said she may have been affected by the 11 a.m. start.
"Everything was kind of very fast in the morning," she said. "I was still sleeping in practice."
Tournament officials scheduled early matches in order to clear up a backlog caused by so many rain delays. The sun was out today and there was only a small chance of showers.
In men's play, defending champino Pete Sampras was scheduled to face French qualifier Sebastian Grosjean in a fourth-round match. Richard Krajicek, the 1996 champion and No. 9 seed, was due to face Wayne Ferreira for a place in the quarters.
For the third straight year, Tim Henman has reached the quarterfinals, raising Britain's hopes of having its first male champion since 1936.
Feeding off the frenzied support of the Centre Court crowd, the 12th-seeded Henman downed U.S. Open champion Patrick Rafter of Australia 6-3, 6-7 (7-3), 6-3, 6-2.
"To walk out on a court when it was full as that, it gives you a buzz," Henman said. "I think I've shown in the past and I've shown again that I do respond to that."
Henman described Monday's win as "one of the best, if not the best" victory of his career. With so much focus on the England soccer team's progress at the World Cup, he said he felt less pressure than ever before.
"I do feel very, very relaxed about the whole situation," Hen-man said. "I surprised myself a little bit, how relaxed I was today."
Henman next faces No. 3 Petr Korda, the Australian Open champion who downed John van Lottum in straight sets. Korda strained his left Achilles tendon in the third set but said he plans to play Wed-nes-day.
"If it's going to be nice weather, I'll be there," he said.
Based on the weather so far, that's no certainty. Monday was the fifth day affected by rain delays.
Henman, who beat Korda in their last meeting in Key Biscayne this spring, said the left-handed Czech is "probably one of the most dangerous players" in the draw.
"He can hit winners from all over the court," Henman said.
The same goes for Goran Ivanisevic, who served 44 aces in his third-round win over Daniel Vacek.
Ivanisevic, a two-time Wimbledon finalist, came into this year's tournament as a forgotten man after a terrible slump that saw him win only one match in his last five Grand Slams.
But the 14th-seed Croatian, scheduled to face Todd Martin in the fourth round, believes he may be on the verge of a breakthrough victory in a major.
"It was not easy for me, all this talking, `He's gone, and he's never going to be back again,' " Ivanisevic said. "But every time when I am on that court, I know I can beat anybody. My matches are like horror thrillers. You cannot expect anything. I made the movie, but I don't know the end."
In women's play, the quarterfinalists in the bottom half of the draw were set Monday when No. 2 Lindsay Davenport, No. 6 Monica Seles, No. 16 Nathalie Tauziat and Natasha Zvereva all advanced in straight sets.
Seles will face Zvereva, while Davenport will play Tauziat.