Davenport, Karatantcheva in quarters

Agence France Presse

Paris, May 29:

Veteran Lindsay Davenport and teenage upstart Sesil Karatantcheva found themselves on a French Open collision course with the confident Bulgarian 15-year-old sniffing a chance of Grand Slam history.

While top seed Davenport was forced into her fourth three-set struggle of the tournament to beat Kim Clijsters, Karatantcheva followed up her shock third-round win over Venus Williams to beat Swiss Emmanuelle Gagliardi. That put her a step closer to breaking Monica Seles’s record as the youngest Grand Slam winner in history.

Hammered 6-1 in the first set and a break down in the second, it looked like the 28-year-old Davenport’s quest for the only Grand Slam title that has eluded her was about to be dashed. But just as she had done in her three previous ties, Davenport ground out an unexpected 1-6, 7-5, 6-3 win.

“I haven’t been in the quarter-finals here since 1999 and I am a little bit amazed I was able to pull it off today considering how badly I was losing and the previous matches against her,” said Davenport.

Clijsters was playing with her right knee heavily strapped, a legacy of an injury which at one stage threatened her involvement at this year’s Roland Garros. Davenport now faces the winner of the tie between Mary Pierce of France, the 2000 champion, and Patty Schnyder of Switzerland.

If she gets there she could find herself up against the sensation of the tournament, Karatantcheva, who won the junior title here last year. The Bulgarian enjoyed a 7-5, 6-3 win over Gagliardi which put her just three matches away from history as the youngest Grand Slam winner of all time.

Seles was 16 years and six months when she beat Steffi Graf to win the Roland Garros title in 1990. “I do believe I can play a lot better than I have done but I don’t know where that can take me,” said Karatantcheva who faces either Russian fourth seed Elena Dementieva or 16th seed Elena Likhovtseva, also of Russia, for a place in the semi-finals.