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Federer Matches McEnroe Record, Strolls past Youzhny
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Roger Federer matched John McEnroe's record streak of 11 straight-set wins in grand slam matches by beating Mikhail Youzhny 7-6, 6-4, 6-4 yesterday to reach the French Open quarterfinals.

World No 1 Federer, whose run dates back to the first round of this year's Australian Open, equals the best mark in the Open era set by McEnroe in 1984 from the second round at Wimbledon through to the US Open quarterfinals.

Top seed Federer, chasing victory in the only grand slam tournament to elude him so far, turned on the style after a sluggish start to extend to 10-0 his perfect record against Russia's Youzhny, seeded 13th here.

The 25-year-old Swiss, bidding to become the third man after Don Budge and Rod Laver to hold all four grand slam titles at the same time, next meets Spaniard Tommy Robredo, seeded ninth.

"He's an excellent player, I knew that," Federer said of Youzhny, who kept fighting, saving two match points before bowing out.

"He's dangerous on every surface, he moves well, and I knew I had to be careful. He challenged me at first and I had to stay calm and react, which I did. I'm pleased with my match."

Youzhny underlined his determination by breaking Federer straight away and matching his prestigious opponent throughout a tight first set.

Federer broke back to level the set at 3-3 and both players held serve until a tiebreak, which Youzhny lost 7-3, firing a backhand long on set point.

The Swiss, who had made uncharacteristic errors in the first set, stepped up a gear in the second, capturing Youzhny's serve early on and staying on top until wrapping it up.

In women's action, top seed and title-holder Justine Henin and top challenger Serena Williams set up a French Open quarterfinals showdown when both easily won their fourth round ties.

Henin, apart from a brief second set blip, was in total command as she brushed aside Sybille Bammer of Austria 6-2, 6-4 for her 18th straight win at Roland Garros.

Williams, seeking a second Paris title five years after her first, underlined her threat by blasting past Russia's Dinara Safina 6-2, 6-3.

The two last played here in the 2003 semifinals when Henin won a superb but controversial three-setter that saw Williams leave the court in tears as the Paris crowd backed the underdog Belgian.

"Justine is really good here. Usually I don't have to peak too soon but this will be different," Williams said. "But I am playing the clay court game really good.

"I don't want to reflect on what happened in 2003 any more. This is a new year and we are both different people. I have matured and if the crowd gets involved I can just zone out."

Henin agreed that 2003 was best consigned to the past as far as this year's tournament goes.

"What happened in 2003 was one of the best memories of my career and I will never forget that moment," she said.

"But it's four years ago now and a lot of things have happened and we've grown up a lot.

"Everyone sees me as the favourite, but I disagree with that. We will all eight be favourites.".

All 16 remaining women were scheduled to play during the day with the quarterfinal line-up set to be decided.

First through minutes before Williams sealed victory was 18-year-old Czech prodigy Nicole Vaidisova who reached the last eight for a second straight year with a comprehensive 6-3, 6-1 win over Italy's Tathiana Garbin.

Last year's losing finalist Svetlana Kuznetsova followed with an impressive 6-4, 6-3 win over Israeli Shahar Peer, a player she had lost to twice already this year, notably at the same stage in the Australian Open.

Two Serbs made it through to the last eight in the shape of Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic.

(China Daily via Agencies and AFP June 4, 2007)

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