Venus and Clijsters Advance to Semis at Stanford

July 29, 2005 07:00 PM
Venus Williams smiles to celebrate her 6-3, 6-3 win over Jelena Jankovic at the Bank of the West Classic Friday.© Harry How/Getty Images
STANFORD, Calif. (AP) - With her younger sister urging her on from the box seats, Venus Williams overpowered Jelena Jankovic 6-3, 6-3 Friday night to reach the semifinals of the Bank of the West Classic.

``She came out and gave it everything she had,'' Williams said. ``I just stood my ground. She's one of those players who likes to rally all day while I prefer the short points.''

Serena, who had to withdraw from the tournament because of an ankle injury, sat in the front row with their father Richard. Venus received advice from her father and encouraging words from Serena.

The match was delayed nearly 20 minutes after the first game of the first set when paramedics treated an elderly woman in the stands. She fainted and was taken to a local hospital for precautionary measures.

The second-seeded and 10th-ranked Williams, who reached her fifth semifinal in 10 years at the event, meets third-seeded Patty Schnyder, who beat Iveta Benesova 6-2, 6-1.

Jankovic was impressed with Williams in their first ever meeting.

``Some of her points were amazing,'' said the 20-year-old player from Belgrade. ``She reached everything. Sometimes I was really shocked. I thought I could do something but I couldn't do anything. It was like I wasn't there on the court.''

Williams delivered an efficient victory and was able to power up at important points.

``I rarely guess where the ball is going to be hit,'' Williams said. ``I just watch it and get there. I still have to buckle down mentally because sometimes I float away.''

Williams has reached the finals of this event five times, winning it twice. She lost last year's final to Lindsay Davenport, who dropped out of her first match Thursday with a bad back.

Fourth-seeded Kim Clijsters beat Daniela Hantuchova 6-3, 6-1 and will meet Anna-Lena Groenefeld, who rallied to defeat Nathalie Dechy 2-6, 6-2, 6-3, in the other semifinal.

``I'm not very familiar with her but I've seen her play a couple of matches,'' Clijsters said. ``She hits the ball clean and she seems to be moving better.''

Clijsters played patiently and nearly mistake free to beat the 24th-ranked Hantuchova for the sixth time in six career meetings.

``Once I broke her I put a lot more pressure on her,'' Clijsters said. ``I stayed focus even when I was down and it helped to win the long games.''

Clijsters remained unbeaten in 16 matches played on American soil this season as she continues her return to prominence following left wrist surgery that sidelined her since last June and forced her to miss the Australian Open in January.

She's won 36 of 41 matches, and improved to 13-2 at Stanford, where she is a two-time champion.

``The last two matches I feel like I'm moving better,'' she said. ``Nothing is bothering me right now and I can move freely.''

Hantuchova played Clijsters tough in a first set that lasted over an hour, winning several big points to extend the 14th-ranked Belgium.

Groenefeld unleashed an ace clocked at 117 mph and used a backhand to complete her upset of the sixth-seeded Dechy.

The 20-year-old German has won five of six matches and advanced to her third semifinal of the season.

``I haven't thought a lot about it,'' Groenefeld said of her matchup with Clijsters. ``It will be another great experience for me. I'll give it my best shot.''

Groenefeld reached the quarterfinals after top-ranked Lindsay Davenport retired with a back injury on Thursday.

Dechy dominated the first set, moving Groenefeld around the court almost at will. When Groenefeld broke Dechy's serve for the first time in the second set, she played steadily afterward.

``I was controlling the game, and then she improved her level of serve,'' Dechy said. ``I looked at her play and when I reacted, I was a little short.''

Schnyder won her seventh straight match and 40th overall. Only Maria Sharapova has won more matches this year.