German Open: Williams through as Henin turfed out

Serena Williams booked her quarter-final berth at the German Open Thursday with her 17th consecutive win but admitted she was just glad not to follow world number one Justine Henin out of the tournament.

German Open: Williams through as Henin turfed out
Henin in Berlin. Photo: DPA

On a day of upsets, Henin suffered a shock third round exit at the hands of Russian Dinara Safina, while third seeded Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova also crashed out after her third round defeat to Ukrainian Alona Bondarenko.

Williams had few problems in her third round 6-3, 6-1 win over Agnieszka Radwanska, her 17th straight victory after winning the Miami, Charleston and Bangalore WTA tournaments this year. But she said her number of wins was irrelevant and she was just happy not to suffer the same fate as Henin, who was earlier beaten 5-7, 6-3, 6-1 – her second defeat in her last three games.

“Yes, that was my 17th win on the trot, but I am not even keeping count, it’s just about winning these games every day,” said fifth-seed Williams. “You can never under-estimate these Tier I tournaments, every day is a battle out there.”

Williams, who hammered Henin 6-2, 6-0 in Miami at the start of last month, now plays Safina in the last eight, but said world number one Henin is more than capable of bouncing back after her latest setback.

“I am surprised she lost, she is a good winner and people have a lot of expectations of her,” said Williams. “She will play a lot better and this is just one tournament.”

Against Safina, Henin fought back from 4-2 down to win the first set 7-5, but the Belgian lost the second set 6-3. Safina had five match points in the third set at the end of the two hours 34 minute marathon and broke the Belgian eight times in total as Henin’s poor run continues this season.

“It was pretty difficult out there and very frustrating, I am very disappointed,” said Henin. “I struggled during the whole match, I didn’t have the intensity or the stability, she just played better then me.”

Having won the last three French Open tournaments, this was not the ending Henin wanted in Berlin and she has just next week’s WTA event in Rome to prepare before Roland Garros begins in Paris on May 26.

“This week was important, not only in terms of the French Open, but also in terms of getting some confidence back,” said Henin, the top seed in Berlin. “I will take a few days off, focus on Rome and we will see what happens now in the next few weeks.”

Having been beaten in all of her five previous matches against Henin, Safina was delighted with the win. “It’s the biggest win of my career so far, after losing all of my five games to her it was a long time coming,” she said.

Earlier in the day, last year’s finalist Kuznetsova was humbled 1-6, 6-2, 6-2 by 15th seed Bondarenko.

There were no such problems for seventh seeded Russian Elena Dementieva as she saw off compatriot Vera Dushevina 7-5, 6-3 to make the quarterfinals. Dementieva will play fourth-seed Jelena Jankovic in the last eight after the Serb’s 6-2, 6-4 win over Russian Maria Kirilenko.

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EXPLAINED: Berlin’s latest Covid rules

In response to rapidly rising Covid-19 infection rates, the Berlin Senate has introduced stricter rules, which came into force on Saturday, November 27th. Here's what you need to know.

A sign in front of a waxing studio in Berlin indicates the rule of the 2G system
A sign in front of a waxing studio indicates the rule of the 2G system with access only for fully vaccinated people and those who can show proof of recovery from Covid-19 as restrictions tighten in Berlin. STEFANIE LOOS / AFP

The Senate agreed on the tougher restrictions on Tuesday, November 23rd with the goal of reducing contacts and mobility, according to State Secretary of Health Martin Matz (SPD).

He explained after the meeting that these measures should slow the increase in Covid-19 infection rates, which was important as “the situation had, unfortunately, deteriorated over the past weeks”, according to media reports.

READ ALSO: Tougher Covid measures needed to stop 100,000 more deaths, warns top German virologist

Essentially, the new rules exclude from much of public life anyone who cannot show proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid-19. You’ll find more details of how different sectors are affected below.

If you haven’t been vaccinated or recovered (2G – geimpft (vaccinated) or genesen (recovered)) from Covid-19, then you can only go into shops for essential supplies, i.e. food shopping in supermarkets or to drugstores and pharmacies.

Many – but not all – of the rules for shopping are the same as those passed in the neighbouring state of Brandenburg in order to avoid promoting ‘shopping tourism’ with different restrictions in different states.

2G applies here, too, as well as the requirement to wear a mask with most places now no longer accepting a negative test for entry. Only minors are exempt from this requirement.

Sport, culture, clubs
Indoor sports halls will off-limits to anyone who hasn’t  been vaccinated or can’t show proof of recovery from Covid-19. 2G is also in force for cultural events, such as plays and concerts, where there’s also a requirement to wear a mask. 

In places where mask-wearing isn’t possible, such as dance clubs, then a negative test and social distancing are required (capacity is capped at 50 percent of the maximum).

Restaurants, bars, pubs (indoors)
You have to wear a mask in all of these places when you come in, leave or move around. You can only take your mask off while you’re sat down. 2G rules also apply here.

Hotels and other types of accommodation 
Restrictions are tougher here, too, with 2G now in force. This means that unvaccinated people can no longer get a room, even if they have a negative test.

For close-contact services, such as hairdressers and beauticians, it’s up to the service providers themselves to decide whether they require customers to wear masks or a negative test.

Football matches and other large-scale events
Rules have changed here, too. From December 1st, capacity will be limited to 5,000 people plus 50 percent of the total potential stadium or arena capacity. And only those who’ve been vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 will be allowed in. Masks are also compulsory.

For the Olympic Stadium, this means capacity will be capped at 42,000 spectators and 16,000 for the Alte Försterei stadium. 

3G rules – ie vaccinated, recovered or a negative test – still apply on the U-Bahn, S-Bahn, trams and buses in Berlin. It was not possible to tighten restrictions, Matz said, as the regulations were issued at national level.

According to the German Act on the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases, people have to wear a surgical mask or an FFP2 mask  on public transport.

Christmas markets
The Senate currently has no plans to cancel the capital’s Christmas markets, some of which have been open since Monday. 

According to Matz, 2G rules apply and wearing a mask is compulsory.

Schools and day-care
Pupils will still have to take Covid tests three times a week and, in classes where there are at least two children who test positive in the rapid antigen tests, then tests should be carried out daily for a week.  

Unlike in Brandenburg, there are currently no plans to move away from face-to-face teaching. The child-friendly ‘lollipop’ Covid tests will be made compulsory in day-care centres and parents will be required to confirm that the tests have been carried out. Day-care staff have to document the results.

What about vaccination centres?
Berlin wants to expand these and set up new ones, according to Matz. A new vaccination centre should open in the Ring centre at the end of the week and 50 soldiers from the German army have been helping at the vaccination centre at the Exhibition Centre each day since last week.

The capacity in the new vaccination centre in the Lindencenter in Lichtenberg is expected to be doubled. There are also additional vaccination appointments so that people can get their jabs more quickly. Currently, all appointments are fully booked well into the new year.