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American Venus Williams reaches Wimbledon tennis final


Venus Williams
American tennis veteran Venus Williams is in position to capture another title at the Wimbledon tennis championships near London. The emotional Williams eliminated the defending women's champion, Maria Sharapova of Russia, in semifinal play Thursday.

It is a fifth Wimbledon final in six years for Venus. The twice former champion beat Sharapova in a sparkling match of fearsome power on Center Court. Venus was faster, fitter, sharper and more determined than she has been for a long time. In a battle of penetrating shots, Venus had the edge on serve (with) plenty (of shots) going into the body and some out wide. And she also consistently hit the angles.

"Really my whole goal for this tournament was just to play one round at a time. And do the best that I could in each round. And my play has gotten better with each opponent. And my level has raised with however my opponent was playing. And yes, it is satisfying. But I have always felt I can play at this level," she said. "I just gave myself the opportunity at this tournament to do it."

Sharapova, shrieking of course, matched Venus with speed and counterpunched strongly with rasping drives as shots scorched the turf before she finally conceded.

Meanwhile, the other semifinal was suspended by rain. American Lindsay Davenport will resume Friday, 5-3 up in the final set, with Amelie Mauresmo of France serving at 15-love (0). The women's final is Saturday.

The men battle Friday to advance to the final. The semifinalists are among the best in the game, with American Andy Roddick facing Thomas Johannson of Sweden and Australian Lleyton Hewitt taking on world number one Roger Federer.

All four have won Grand Slam titles. Federer leads with four, chasing his third successive Wimbledon crown. Blocking his path is the 2002 champion Hewitt, an opponent he has beaten in their last seven encounters.

It is Federer's creative skills, including power and touch, against the mentally tough Hewitt, the Australian delivering those mesmeric penetrating and angled ground strokes.

Then it is Roddick, the U.S. Open champion two years ago, against the 30-year-old Johannson, the 2002 Australian Open winner. Roddick has the advantage of a big serve, big forehand and a tennis brain improving all the time, while the Swede will have to absorb all that power from the baseline.

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