Serve-and-volley: Two Americans soar on Fourth of July - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

By Beret Remak

Serve-and-volley: Two Americans soar on Fourth of July

Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty Images - Facing 19 break point chances on her serve, Maria Sharapova was broken four times by Venus Williams. Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty Images - Facing 19 break point chances on her serve, Maria Sharapova was broken four times by Venus Williams.
Alex Livesey/Getty Images - With her left hand bothering her, Serena Williams had difficulty with her backhand. Alex Livesey/Getty Images - With her left hand bothering her, Serena Williams had difficulty with her backhand.
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images - Paul-Henri Mathieu had just two aces to Andy Roddick's 19. Clive Brunskill/Getty Images - Paul-Henri Mathieu had just two aces to Andy Roddick's 19.
Ryan Pierse/Getty Images - Novak Djokovic paced 39 winners, including 11 aces, to 36 unforced errors. Ryan Pierse/Getty Images - Novak Djokovic paced 39 winners, including 11 aces, to 36 unforced errors.
Fans finally got their money's worth as a day of almost uninterrupted tennis returned to Wimbledon. Two out of the three Americans left in the singles draw celebrated Independence Day with victories, but for Serena Williams the party's over.

Centre Court featured an intense dual, and tight was not just a reference to Serena Williams' calf; it also refers to Justine Henin's third set as she saw her double-break lead collapse, along with a match point. After a gusty drop shot to prevent a break chance opportunity to level the set, Henin earned a match point. Nerves suffocated Henin as a routine volley found the net, yet she regrouped and played two strong points to clinch her first grass-court victory against Williams and the match 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

American(s) of the Moment:
The last time Venus Williams beat Maria Sharapova was two years ago on grass. Apparently that memory was still fresh with Sharapova as she barely sank her teeth into the first set, losing 1-6. At 1-1 in the second, drizzle postponed the match for about two hours, giving Sharapova time to regroup, but Venus wouldn't let her. Despite an incredible 13-deuce game after the delay eventually won by Sharapova, the rest of the fireworks came from Venus as she ousted Sharapova 6-1, 6-3.

In his fourth consecutive third-set tiebreaker victory over Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-2, 7-5, 7-6 (6), Andy Roddick planted himself into the quarterfinals against Mathieu's countryman, Richard Gasquet.

By the numbers:
A match that had gone through eight rain delays and spanned over four days and over 92 hours finally concluded. Returning to the court at 4-4 in the fifth, Rafael Nadal and Robin Soderling continued to scuffle, determined to hold serve. At 5-6 Soderling saved four match points, but on the fifth match point of the day Nadal converted and celebrated as if he had won the championship, for a second forgetting that he was only in the third round.

Don't lose track of:
The No. 4 and No. 5 in the men and women's draws. As the top-seeds hog the headlines, Serbia's Novak Djokovic and Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova continued to march largely unnoticed through the draw. Djokovic applauded the crowd and placed his sweaty wristband on an adoring fan as he advanced to the fourth round, defeating Nicolas Kiefer 7-6(4), 6-7(6), 6-2, 7-5. In the bottom half of the draw, Kuznetsova will encounter Venus Williams in the quarterfinals.

Player on the move:
On the women's side, the red, white and blue of France did have success as No. 18 Marion Bartoli became the first women to reach the semifinals, defeating No. 31 Michaella Krajicek 3-6, 6-3, 6-2. Bartoli will face Henin in her first semifinal appearance.

Looking Ahead:
Things got back on track at the All-England Club as scheduled matches were completed. The bottom half of the men's draw will still be playing catch-up in the fourth round as baseliners Lleyton Hewitt and Djokovic compete for a quarterfinal slot. Due to rain delays and an injured opponent, Roger Federer returns to the grass for the first time since last week against Juan Carlos Ferrero.

In another quarterfinal matchup, teenagers Ana Ivanovic and Nicole Vaidisova, having already surpassed their best Wimbledon performances, battle for a berth in the semifinals.

Enough forehands were sprayed around by Nadal in his five-set victory against Soderling to put a big question mark on his chances of winning on the turf. Next up for Nadal is dangerous Russian Mikhail Youzhny.For more sports coverage, visit http://www.nbcsports.com?aff=kndo
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