Serena advances to Toronto semifinals

August 21, 2009 06:14 PM
TORONTO (AP) — Second-seeded Serena Williams breezed through to the semifinals of the Rogers Cup on Friday with a straight-sets victory over Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic.

Williams, the 2001 tournament champion, was rarely challenged in a 6-3, 6-2 win over the 46th-ranked qualifier. Williams will next face No. 4 Elena Dementieva of Russia, who advanced with a tough three-set win over Australia’s Samantha Stosur.

Later Friday, No. 5 Jelena Jankovic took on Alisa Kleybanova of Russia and No. 14 Agnieszka Radwanka of Poland faces Maria Sharapova of Russia.

Williams and Safarova exchanged booming groundstrokes early in the match, with each player holding serve until Williams seized a break-point opportunity to take a 5-3 lead. She held serve at love in the next game to wrap up the set.

Williams quickly broke Safarova to open the second set, prompting the left-hander to switch rackets in an attempt to get things going, but it didn’t seem to work.

Williams broke Safarova again to jump ahead 3-0 and cruised from there, advancing to her seventh semifinal in 13 tournaments this season—but first since winning Wimbledon. Her match against Dementieva will be a rematch of a three-set thriller at the All England Club.

Earlier, Dementieva overcame an error-filled first set in the 6-7 (3), 6-1, 6-3 victory over Stosur on a breezy afternoon at the Rexall Centre. Dementieva was able to adjust as the match went on, while Stosur struggled to land her forehand.

“It was not easy to play,” Dementieva said. “On this kind of day you’re just trying to be very aggressive with your footwork, trying to get very close to the balls and to get good control on the racket head, and just go for the shots.”

After exchanging breaks with Dementieva six straight times in the first set, Stosur pulled away in the tiebreaker thanks to three straight unforced errors. The final one, a simple forehand that Dementieva drove into the net, gave Stosur the set.

Dementieva stormed back to win the first four games in the second set, and finished it off on serve when the 17th-ranked Stosur hit a return long. The lanky Russian carried that momentum into the deciding set, taking a 4-3 lead by breaking Stosur at love.

Dementieva followed by holding serve, then took advantage of two Stosur double-faults—her eighth and ninth of the match—to close things out.

“I’m sure it’s going to be tough to face Serena one more time,” said Dementieva, who has two WTA Tour titles this season. “It looks like she’s in good shape. She has played very powerful in all her matches this week, so it’s going to be a tough challenge.”