NEW YORK – Venus Williams (search) bottled up her emotions but not her power. Serena Williams (search) shrieked and bounced her racket before limping off an angry, achy loser. Artistry gave way to sheer slugging once more in Sister Act XIV, the ongoing saga of siblings who hate to play each other — especially if it's not for a Grand Slam title. Far from a family feud, their matches create a family crisis, and this time neither of their parents could bear to watch.
Venus' 7-6 (5), 6-2 victory Sunday to reach the quarterfinals at the U.S. Open (search) evened their head-to-head matches at 7-7 and gave the elder sister her second win this year after losing six straight to Serena. It was the ninth time they met in a Grand Slam match, and the earliest since Venus won the first clash in the second round of the 1998 Australian Open. Serena had won their last five matches in majors — all in finals.
"Serena is the baby so she's going to do her little tantrum," said older sister Lyndrea, the only immediate family member watching at courtside. "You kind of want to pull for her because she is the baby. It's hard but I had to be there for them."
Venus, who won her third Wimbledon two months ago and is going for her third U.S. Open title, could see that Serena was struggling to control her shots and temper.
"When she doesn't play her best is the best time to get a win against her," Venus said.
Women's top seed Maria Sharapova (search) had no trouble dismissing India's rising star, Sania Mirza, 6-2, 6-1, and next plays fellow Russian and No. 9 Nadia Petrova, a 7-6 (4), 7-5 victor over Nicole Vaidisova of the Czech Republic.
Serena was limping near the end but said she didn't reinjure the left knee that flared up last month, or the left ankle that bothered her earlier this year.
"I was just having problems at the end because I was moving a lot and stopping a lot," Serena said. "It always gives me a little trouble after a certain time period. Nothing happened out there to make it worse at all."
Serena said it's easier to play her sister when there's something more important at stake than merely a berth in the quarterfinals.
"Early on it's kind of very weird and awkward. And bizarre, to say the least," Serena said. "I definitely had my chances. I had a set point, I had a lot of different opportunities. I don't think I played my best today at all. I don't think Venus did, either.
"We were talking in the locker room afterward about just how horrible we played. I said, 'You played terrible.' She said, 'I know.' I said, 'I played much better against (Francesca) Schiavone,' and she said, 'Yes, you did.'
"It was definitely a match I could have played better and she could have played better. ... I can't believe I'm out of the tournament."
Former U.S. Open champion Lleyton Hewitt barely escaped the same fate as French Open champion Rafael Nadal.
A day after James Blake knocked the No. 2 Nadal out in the third round, American Davis Cup teammate Taylor Dent came close to ousting the third-seeded Hewitt in a five-set thriller Sunday in the same round at the U.S. Open.
Dent, best known for his role as the hitting partner of the cute actor son of Andre Agassi (search) and Steffi Graf (search) in a TV commercial, wasn't acting when he produced some of the best tennis of his career before going down to Hewitt, 6-3, 3-6, 6-7 (2), 6-2, 7-5.
The Australian Hewitt, the 2001 champion and last year's runner-up to Roger Federer (search), was pressured constantly by Dent's net charges and 19 aces in a classic match between a baseliner and a serve-and-volleyer.
Hewitt also suffered from his own poor serving — eight double-faults, including at least one in each of the five games he was broken.
The match seesawed for more than three hours before coming down to a few points that could have gone either way. Hewitt secured a break to 4-3 in the fifth set, then was broken himself when he double-faulted twice and made two unforced errors. John McEnroe (search) said on CBS, "There's a guy who rarely, if ever, beats himself. He completely choked on those last four points."
Dent, who served at up to 141 mph in the set but had trouble with consistency all day, held to 5-4 to move within a game of winning. But Hewitt held, then broke Dent with a forehand pass after the American's 10th double-fault.
Leading 6-5, Hewitt went to four match points, and fended off one break point with the help of a 127 mph serve, his fastest of the match, before winning with a 114 mph ace up the middle after 3 hours, 21 minutes.
"It was extremely tough conditions. It's swirling out there today," Hewitt said. "Taylor's never going to give you the match. He's a tough competitor. I had to earn it."
The No. 25 Dent, an American with an Australian father, former pro Phil Dent, beat Hewitt in straight sets on a hardcourt in his hometown of Adelaide early this year. Hewitt won their meeting in the round-of-16 at Wimbledon two months ago. With Sunday's win, Hewitt has won five of their six matches.
Hewitt next plays No. 15 Dominik Hrbaty, who beat No. 17 David Ferrer 6-7 (7), 7-5, 7-5, 7-5.
Dent was left to think only about what might have been if he had won a few key points when he held the lead in the fifth set.
"It's disappointing, but it's actually more frustrating than anything else," Dent said. "I feel like I lost that match for the same reason I've lost 99 percent of matches over the last year and a half or so. My serve just really let me down today.
"It's a bit of a bummer, but I just have to take it on the chin and keep working on it."
Dent has great promise but has been struggling with his consistency for a long time.
"I can go serve four aces one game and then come out the next game ... and have a couple of double-faults," he said. "Unfortunately for me, it's the most important shot I have to have for my game and also my most stubborn shot. I've had a lot of tutelage on my serve over the years. I've tried pretty much everything there is to try. ... It just kind of seems like a Band-Aid effect."