Williams sisters clash in shrinking field

Serena and Venus Williams will clash at Wimbledon for the first time in six years on Monday, while Maria Sharapova and Caroline Wozniacki will fancy their title chances as two of the four top 10 players in the last 16.

Monday’s meeting will be the 26th clash between the Williams sisters, who have won the Wimbledon title five times each over the last 15 years.

“If I see her in a match in a tight spot, I know exactly what that feels like,” Venus said.

“I think that’s a unique relationship, that is pretty rare in sport, that she and I share.”

Serena holds the US, Australian and French Open titles but reckons Venus is in better form.

“It will be a really good match. I’m practising next to her every day and I’m in awe of how she’s doing,” she said.

With either world No.1 Serena or 16th-seeded Venus certain to fall, the second week at Wimbledon is looking appetising for the other silverware contenders at the All England Club.

Serena, Sharapova, Wozniacki and Lucie Safarova are the only top 10 seeds remaining in the draw.

Fourth seed Sharapova, a five-time Grand Slam champion, faces Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan for a spot in the quarter-finals. The Russian won Wimbledon in 2004 but since has only made it past the fourth round once since 2006.

While one of the Williams sisters could face Sharapova or Safarova in the semi-finals, Wozniacki cannot meet any of them before the final and only has lower-ranked players in her way.

The former world No.1 faces Spanish 20th seed Garbine Muguruza in the fourth round.

The dearth of remaining top 10 players means sixth seed Safarova, who ghosted through the first week, is now also looking like a serious contender.

Last month’s French Open runner-up reached the Wimbledon semi-finals last year and faces Coco Vandeweghe, the US world No.47.

Another former world No.1, Jelena Jankovic, is hungry for more after knocking out Petra Kvitova. She faces Agnieszka Radwanska, the 2012 runner-up.

Victoria Azarenka, the 2012 and 2013 Australian Open champion, has made the Wimbledon semi-finals twice but the Belarusian 24th seed could face a rough ride against in-form Belinda Bencic.

Bencic, the 2013 girls’ champion, reckons she is “still so long away” from winning a Grand Slam, but the Swiss is on a career-high ranking of 22 after winning the Wimbledon warm-up tournament at Eastbourne.

Fellow Swiss Timea Bacsinszky reached her first Grand Slam semi-final at the French Open last month and the 15th seed is favourite to beat world No.48 Monica Niculescu of Romania.

Olga Govortsova is the only qualifier to reach the last 16. The Belarusian faces US 21st seed Madison Keys.

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