There was no mistaking Venus Williams's focus Monday when she strode onto Court No. 2 at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club for her match against fellow American Jill Craybas. There was no mistaking her motivation, either.
With a place in Wimbledon's quarterfinals at stake, the elder tennis-playing Williams dispatched Craybas with ruthless efficiency, slamming serves upwards of 115 mph and pounding forehands until the 30-year-old journeywoman succumbed, 6-0, 6-2.
Williams conceded she did it "a little bit" for her sister, Serena, whom Craybas sent packing in straight sets Saturday night, pulling off the biggest upset in the grass-court tournament to date and, in the process, scuttling the much-anticipated fourth-round showdown between the Williams sisters, who combined for four consecutive Wimbledon titles from 2000 to 2003.
But mostly, Williams explained, she had her own pride and goals in mind as she set to work against Craybas, who simply wasn't up to the task of taking on both sisters in three days' time. "I just wanted to play well -- just keep my level rising for each round," said Williams, who hasn't won a Grand Slam title since 2001.
Also advancing was Lindsay Davenport, the tournament's top seed, who dropped her first set of the fortnight but won a major psychological victory in dismissing Kim Clijsters of Belgium, 6-3, 6-7 (7-4), 6-3.
Clijsters held a 9-7 edge in their previous meetings, and Davenport was braced for a battle, mindful of Clijsters's hunger since returning to the game following wrist surgery. "She wants it more than anybody out there," Davenport said. "I thought, 'Okay, I'm not going to give in.' "
Davenport squandered a match point in the second set and played a sloppy tiebreaker, but recovered nicely to close the match in 1 hour 50 minutes.
Monday's schedule was packed with matches, and England's capricious weather cooperated long enough to complete all of them. By nightfall all eight singles quarterfinals were set.
The women's quarters will be played Tuesday and feature four Russians, two Frenchwomen and two Americans.
Davenport will take on Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova, the fifth seed and defending U.S. Open champion. Williams faces 12th-seeded Mary Pierce, who has advanced further on grass than any of the recent French Open quarterfinalists. At 30, Pierce is the oldest player remaining in the tournament and is enjoying her best season since 2000.
The other women's quarterfinals will pit defending Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova against fellow Russian Nadia Petrova; and Amelie Mauresmo of France against Russia's Anastasia Myskina, the 2004 French Open champion.
American Andy Roddick, last year's Wimbledon runner-up, also advanced Monday, dismissing Argentina's Guillermo Coria, 6-3, 7-6 (7-1), 6-4. Roddick will face Sebastien Grosjean of France when the men's quarterfinals are played Wednesday.
Defending champion Roger Federer defeated Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (8-6), and third-seeded Lleyton Hewitt of Australia topped American Taylor Dent, 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (9-7), 6-3.
The remaining men's quarterfinalists are Chile's Fernando Gonzalez, who will play Federer; Spain's Feliciano Lopez, who will be pitted against Hewitt; and Argentina's David Nalbandian, who will face Thomas Johansson of Sweden.
Though not a single British player survived to Wimbledon's second week, 41,386 filed onto the grounds Monday to see the game's biggest names and the tournament's top three seeds: Federer, Davenport and Hewitt on Center Court; and Roddick, Sharapova and Mauresmo on Court No. 1.
For the third time in four matches, Venus Williams was exiled to the cramped confines of Court No. 2, where Serena Williams met her untimely end Saturday. But unlike Serena, Venus had the advantage of scouting Craybas, having sat through Serena's straight-sets defeat.
Serena didn't return the show of support, flying out of London shortly after her devastating loss.
At 5 feet 3 and 123 pounds, Craybas isn't capable of overpowering the biggest hitters. But she prevailed against Serena because she was far more fit and willing to chase down groundstrokes and punch back serves until Serena, more often than not, made a mistake.
Venus was a more formidable opponent.
Though the sisters' styles are similar -- each takes the ball early and relies on big forehands and booming serves -- Venus is clearly more fit and more disciplined, at least at the moment.
Unlike Serena, who started each of her three matches here a step slow, Venus came out sharp, breaking Craybas on her first three service games to win the first set in 21 minutes. And while she was far from perfect, Venus kept her unforced errors in check (15) while firing off 28 winners.
"I think she was really fired up today," Craybas said. "She didn't give away any free points and she was just mentally tough."
Venus declared herself pleased with her play and pleased, above all, that she was improving with each round. "It's probably a really big challenge also to play both Serena and I in a row," she added. "So I guess I had a good position, to be second sister."
Lindsay Davenport, who'd lost 9 of 16 matches against Kim Clijsters, won fourth-round showdown, 6-3, 6-7 (7-4), 6-3.