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PARIS - Death, divorce, illness, injuries, a lawsuit: Set tennis aside for a moment, and ponder just how much Serena Williams and Justine Henin have dealt with since the last time they met at the French Open.

That was in the 2003 semifinals, as bitter a big match as this sport has produced lately. A pro-Henin crowd cheered Williams' mistakes, then booed her off the court. During a teary news conference after her loss, Williams accused Henin of "lying and fabricating" about whether she'd held up a hand to stop play.

"It seems," Williams said Sunday, "like decades ago."

They set up a Roland Garros rematch in this year's quarterfinals with matter-of-fact victories Sunday: No. 8-seeded Williams beat No. 10 Dinara Safina of Russia 6-2, 6-3, while No. 1 Henin defeated No. 20 Sybille Bammer of Austria 6-2, 6-4.

Less straightforward was No. 2 Maria Sharapova's 3-6, 6-4, 9-7 win against No. 14 Patty Schnyder of Switzerland. Sharapova saved two match points, was two points from defeat on 11 occasions, and broke when Schnyder served for the match at 5-4, 6-5 and 7-6 in the third set, then again in the closing game.

"Don't count on me giving up," Sharapova said.

Like in that 2003 Williams-Henin match, there was a question about gamesmanship. As Sharapova started her ser-vice motion at 7-7, 30-love, Schnyder tried to call time. Sharapova went ahead and hit - she said she saw Schnyder's hand after finishing the serve - and when Schnyder let the ball go by, Sharapova had her first ace of the tourna-ment.

From that moment on, fans jeered and whistled derisively at Sharapova, including when she would pump a fist af-ter winning a point, when she went to the change rackets in the middle of a game, and when the match ended.

Sharapova had no regrets.

"It's tough playing tennis and being Mother Teresa at the same time," said Sharapova, who next meets No. 9 Anna Chakvetadze.

The other women's quarterfinals are 2004 U.S. Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova against No. 7 Ana Ivanovic, and No. 4 Jelena Jankovic against No. 6 Nicole Vaidisova.

Two men's quarterfinals were set Sunday. No. 1 Roger Federer tied John McEnroe's Open era record for consecu-tive Grand Slam sets won at 35 with a 7-6 (3), 6-4, 6-4 victory over No. 13 Mikhail Youzhny of Russia. Federer faces No. 9 Tommy Robredo for a semifinal spot, and No. 4 Nikolay Davydenko of Russia plays No. 19 Guillermo Canas of Argentina.

Henin has won 29 consecutive sets and two straight titles at Roland Garros; Williams has won her past 11 Grand Slam matches. As well as both are playing right now, any discussion of what's to come Tuesday on Court Philippe Chatrier is tied to what happened in that same spot exactly four years ago - and everything that's happened to them since.

"I don't want to reflect on that anymore. I let it go. And obviously she did. Or whether she didn't or not, it doesn't matter anymore. This is a new year," said Williams, 6-3 against Henin. "It was what it was, but we're both different people now."

That they are.

On June 5, 2003, each was 21 and seemingly without a worry in the world.

Williams was ranked No. 1, with four consecutive major titles for a self-styled "Serena Slam," plus was beginning to dabble in acting.

When Henin won the French Open two days later, she collected the first of what are now five major trophies; by October, she was ranked No. 1. Plus, she was a newlywed, and added her husband's last name, Hardenne, to her own after they were married in November 2002.

"It seems very far away," Henin said Sunday, thinking back to 2003. "A lot of things happened in our careers, in our personal lives. And we probably grew up a lot."

She skipped the Australian Open in January while going through a separation from her husband. She only re-cently re-established a connection with her estranged father and siblings; her mother died of cancer in 1994.

And Henin was away from the tour for months at a time in 2004 and 2005 because of an energy-sapping blood virus and assorted injuries, including to her knee and back.

Williams' list of health problems is long, too, including left knee surgery in August 2003. She missed each of the past two French Opens, and her lack of matches contributed to her drop to 140th in the rankings in 2006.

There have been other distractions, such as spending time in court when two tennis promoters sued her, her sister and father for breach of contract in connection with a proposed "Battle of the Sexes" match.

The worst, of course, was the shooting death of her half-sister, Yetunde Price, in September 2003. During the trophy ceremony at this year's Australian Open, Williams' voice cracked with emotion when she said she was dedicating her eighth Grand Slam title to Price.

"I've been through a lot. It takes a strong person to be able to be at the bottom of the barrel and be able to come back. And I was completely - I was beyond the bottom of the barrel," Williams said Sunday. "It's hard to be able to come back."

But that is precisely what she's done, off the court and on.

Against Safina, she was at her best when she needed to be, reeling of 12 of the final 14 points after getting broken to 3-all in the second set.

"She's ready to step up and grab a wild bear right now," Williams' father, Richard, said after snapping photos of her fourth-round victory. "I don't think anyone is going to touch her. Not at all. She's ready to play."

Federer ties McEnroe's Grand Slam set streak

Roger Federer prepared for a long day on court, even though it's been quite a while since he's had one at a Grand Slam.

"I've got enough shirts for five-set matches in the bag," he said. "I only used one today, which was good."

Federer tied the Grand Slam record for most consecutive sets won, taking his streak to 35 by beating No. 13 Mikhail Youzhny of Russia 7-6 (3), 6-4, 6-4 Sunday to reach the French Open quarterfinals.

The No. 1-ranked Federer matched another Open era mark with 11 straight-set Grand Slam victories in a row. John McEnroe set both records in 1984, during Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

Federer wasn't aware of his accomplishment until asked about it after the match.

"It is something which is quite special, I would say," he said. "But I'm focused on Roland Garros and I want to win my matches. And if I can win in three sets, so much the better - but I'm not looking for these types of records."

He hasn't lost a set at a major tournament since dropping the second set of last year's U.S. Open final against Andy Roddick.

Federer won the next two sets that day to win that title, then won all seven of his matches at the Australian Open in January in straight sets - becoming the first man to win a Grand Slam championship without dropping a set since Bjorn Borg at the 1980 French Open.

Sunday's result also extended Federer's dominance over Youzhny. Federer improved to 10-0 against the Russian, winning 22 of the 24 sets they've played.

"We both can do almost everything on court. But he (does almost) everything better than me," said Youzhny, a semifinalist at the 2006 U.S. Open. "Maybe, maybe, I will have a chance. Maybe. Maybe no. You never know what happens in the future."

Youzhny did have more success on Federer's serve than the Swiss star's three previous opponents in this tourna-ment.

Entering Sunday, Federer had faced a total of seven break points, saving six. Youzhny managed to break him in the very first game - thanks largely to four unforced errors by Federer - and wound up earning eight break points, converting two.

"I served well at some stages of the match and served well when I had to," Federer said. "But in general, I wasn't hitting my spots so well, like the last few days. It happens sometimes."

Not often to a guy trying to win his fourth consecutive major title and to complete a career Grand Slam. In the quarterfinals, Federer will face No. 9 Tommy Robredo of Spain, who beat No. 29 Filippo Volandri of Italy 6-2, 7-5, 6-1.

In Sunday's other fourth-round men's matches, No. 4 Nikolay Davydenko of Russia beat No. 15 David Nalbandian of Argentina 6-3, 7-6 (1), 3-6, 7-6 (2), and No. 19 Guillermo Canas of Argentina eliminated Juan Monaco of Argentina 6-0, 6-4, 6-2.

Shortly after beating Volandri, Robredo was asked to look ahead to the quarterfinals.

"I just need to have lunch - an hour," Robredo said. "And then I will think about the match against Federer."


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