The fourth seed up against the sixth usually produces a close contest and that proved to be the case when Monica Seles and Justine Henin met in the quarter-finals on Centre Court.
It was a clash of contrasting styles and generations, the powerful two-handed modern game adopted by the 28 year-old Seles versus the classical approach of Henin, the 20 year-old Belgian who was Runner-up in last year’s Championships.
Experience was certainly up against youth, and experience had the psychological edge having won all four of their previous meetings. Both arrived at the quarter-final stage for the loss of just one set with Henin having made heavier weather of it surviving some tight matches including three tie-breaks.
She followed that pattern falling behind early and just re-establishing the status quo when the rains fell at 4-all, forcing them off-court for just over 80-minutes.
They quickly picked up where they left off with some brutal exchanges, Seles showing why she was still up there in the top echelons when she turned attack into defence, rarely retreating and more often than not working her way up the court.
However, two errors cost her dearly, one forced by Henin pulling her wide and the second when she missed the baseline with a backhand.
Henin quickly pocketed the set but as expected, Seles was equally quickly back on the attack sweeping into a 3-1 lead, losing it three games later as Henin counter attacked.
Seles, who keeps on the move even at the change-overs, kept her nose in front to hold out for the tie-break. Unfortunately, her game disintegrated somewhat there as the Belgian shot-maker swept into a 4-1 lead, securing her semi-final place when Seles dropped a service return off her backhand into the net for a 7-5, 7-6 (7-4) victory.
Her opponent in the semi-final will be defending Champion, Venus Williams, in a repeat of last year’s final.