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Comebacks, not upsets, rule fourth-round play


WIMBLEDON, England - What had the potential to be an electrifying day of tennis at Wimbledon came up a few shots shy of truly memorable yesterday.

Not that Lindsay Davenport and Lleyton Hewitt of Australia didn't try their best, albeit unintentionally, to push things in that direction in the fourth round.

Third-seeded Hewitt, unusually, squandered two match points in the third set and needed another set to finish off Taylor Dent, 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (7), 6-3. Top-seeded Davenport, who blew a match point in the second set by pushing a backhand just long, lost the second-set tiebreaker but rallied to defeat No. 15 Kim Clijsters of Belgium, 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-3.

There was no shortage of comebacks, starting with a predictable, emotion-laden all-Russian encounter: No. 9 Anastasia Myskina survived two match points in the second set, beating No. 6 Elena Dementieva, 1-6, 7-6 (9), 7-5. Also, No. 8 Nadia Petrova of Russia also fought off two match points, surviving a roller-coaster contest against Kveta Peschke of the Czech Republic, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (7), 6-3.

Top-seeded Roger Federer and No. 2 Andy Roddick each were forced to a tiebreaker but won in straight sets. Federer beat Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (6), and Roddick defeated No. 15 Guillermo Coria, 6-3, 7-6 (1), 6-4.

And there would be no sweep of the Williams sisters on Court 2 by Jill Craybas. Venus Williams won the first set in 21 minutes against Craybas and looked convincing, winning, 6-0, 6-2. Craybas said she has been suffering from a rib injury since the second round.

"I think it's probably a big challenge to play both Serena and I in a row," Venus said. "So, I guess I had a good position to be second sister."

Missing yesterday was a buzz-creating moment at the All England Club - the stunning upset of a marquee player, which is what happened Saturday when Craybas beat Serena Williams in straight sets in the fading light.

Even Davenport-Clijsters, which featured terrific baseline exchanges and massive shifts of momentum, ended limply. Clijsters, who had served just one double fault, had three in the final game, including one on match point.

Davenport's quarterfinal opponent will be No. 5 Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia, who beat Magdalena Maleeva of Bulgaria, 6-4, 6-3. Davenport lost to Kuznetsova in last year's U.S. Open semifinals, two rounds after beating Venus Williams.

Davenport-Clijsters followed Hewitt-Dent on Centre Court. Dent lost his first two service games, falling behind 4-0 in 13 minutes, then managed to play his way into it. However, he committed a major mental mistake, stopping play in one rally on one of his break points late in the second set.

And so, Hewitt seemed on his way to a relatively routine victory, reaching double match point in the third-set tiebreaker. He led 6-4 in the tiebreaker, on his serve, and missed the first one by netting a backhand passing shot. Dent erased the second with a low backhand volley.

Controversy surfaced in the fourth set when Dent challenged the chair umpire, Enric Molina, who overruled and corrected himself. "That was not good," Dent said. "Whether the call was bad or not, you should stick with it."

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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