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Page last updated at 11:09 GMT, Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Safina beats Dokic to reach semis

AUSTRALIAN OPEN
Venue: Melbourne Park Date: 19 January-1 February
Coverage: BBC Red Button, Radio 5 Live sports extra, BBC Sport website (Red Button coverage streamed on website throughout fortnight)


Dinara Safina
Dinara Safina is seeking to emulate her brother by winning the Australian Open

Third seed Dinara Safina overcame home favourite and wildcard Jelena Dokic in three sets to reach the Australian Open semi-finals in Melbourne.

The quarter-final was in the balance after the pair split the first two sets and were level at 4-4 in the third.

But the Russian got the crucial break and served out for a 6-4 4-6 6-4 win after two hours and 19 minutes.

She will now play her compatriot Vera Zvonareva after the seventh seed eased past France's Marion Bartoli 6-3 6-0.

"I'm sorry I had to defeat your Australian," Safina told the 15,000 fans on Rod Laver Arena after her victory. "I hope that you will be behind me next time."

Dokic, a former world number four making her return to top-level tennis after a two-year absence through injury and illness, was pleased with the way her return to Grand Slam tennis had gone.

She beat three seeded players to reach the last eight and put up a determined battle throughout the quarter-final, despite suffering from a sprained ankle suffered in her previous match.

"I played three sets with the number three player in the world, so everything is positive," she said.

606: DEBATE

"I've had a great tournament. It's a little bit disappointing. I had some chances, but sometimes things go your way and sometimes they don't.

"I have really fought well this week. I have no regrets. I just would like to keep it going."

Dokic lost a tight first but, with the 22-year-old Russian struggling with her serve, fought back to take the second.

Safina, whose brother Marat has won the men's title, took a 2-0 lead in the decider, but a combination of her own errors and Dokic's sublime winners saw the Australian pull the scoreline back to 4-4.

However, Safina broke Dokic's serve with her fourth break point and then managed to hold her own service game to clinch victory after two hours and 19 minutes.

Vera Zvonareva
Zvonareva won 11 games in a row in a dominant display

The 24-year-old Zvonareva took time to settle against the 16th seed and was broken twice as she trailed 3-1 in the first set.

But Bartoli's game then completely fell apart in the fierce heat and Zvonareva reeled off 11 games in a row to claim a one-sided victory and reach her first Grand Slam semi-final.

"I really thought Marion was playing really well in the beginning and I made a few unforced errors, so that's why I think I was down 3-1," said Zvonareva.

"Then I was able to cut down on my unforced errors and I was able to keep a good level of play throughout the whole match. I think it made the difference."

Zvonareva has been in impressive form so far at Melbourne Park, reaching the last four without dropping a set.

And, although she started poorly against Bartoli in a scrappy opening that saw four breaks of serve in the opening six games, she quickly found her form.

I was really feeling the heat after the end of the first set

Marion Bartoli

In contrast, Bartoli - who knocked out top seed Jelena Jankovic in the fourth round - folded. The French star looked sluggish around the courts and her usually powerful groundstrokes lacked penetration and accuracy.

She offered little resistance as Zvonareva broke three more times in the second set in her way to a comfortable victory that took a little over an hour.

"I think she played just unbelievably well," said Bartoli. "I was really feeling the heat after the end of the first set, so I really needed to cool down a little bit before to go on in the second.

"But I didn't find I was really putting a bad performance. She was just better, that's it."

In the other half of the draw, second seed Serena Williams takes on Svetlana Kuznetsova on Wednesday.

Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro, the world number 46, faces fourth seed Elena Dementieva in the other quarter-final.



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see also
Aussie Open day nine photos
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Aussie Open day nine quotes
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Federer to face Roddick in semis
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Order of play
19 Jan 09 |  Tennis
Men's singles draw
26 Aug 11 |  Tennis
Women's singles draw
28 Jan 10 |  Tennis
Tennis on the BBC
07 Jan 09 |  Tennis


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