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Page last updated at 19:54 GMT, Thursday, 7 May 2009 20:54 UK

Venus & Safina to meet in semis

Venus Williams
Williams is trying to win her third title of the year in Rome

Venus Williams will take on world number one Dinara Safina in the last four of the Italian Open after the pair came through Thursday's quarters.

Safina was in trouble at a set and a break down against Spain's Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, but battled back to win 4-6 6-3 6-0 on the clay.

Williams had a far easier time as she thrashed Agnieszka Radwanska 6-1 6-2.

Svetlana Kuznetsova earlier beat title holder Jelena Jankovic 6-1 7-6 (7-3) to set up a clash with Victoria Azarenka.

The Belarussian, who won the Miami title last month, saw off Estonia's Kaia Kanepi 7-6 (7-5) 6-3.

"It was a pretty bad match from both of us," said the 19-year-old Azarenka. "I'm just happy I managed to stay calm in the second set and pull it off."

In the first of the quarter-finals, Jankovic was outplayed in the opening set but had a chance to turn the tide with two break points at 6-5 in the second.


However, Kuznetsova saved both to stay in the set and was rewarded as she tied up victory in one hour and 38 minutes.

It was a measure of revenge for the 23-year-old Russian after Jankovic, ranked below her at the time, beat her in straight sets in the event's final two years ago.

"She was hitting the ball very, very well, deep and with a lot of power," said Jankovic. "She didn't allow me to play my game, especially in the first set. She deserved to win.

"I wanted to win here three times in a row. Unfortunately it didn't happen, but it's not the end of world."

Safina had a narrow escape after losing serve early in the second set, collecting her thoughts while having her foot strapped by the trainer and going on to save three break points to avoid going 4-1 down.

"She's a tough opponent to play," Safina said of Martinez Sanchez.

"There are not many players who play the ways she plays, so of course it's always difficult, especially because she's a lefty and volleys great and serves great. She could have won this match."

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see also
Ivanovic suffers defeat in Rome
06 May 09 |  Tennis
Serena suffers shock Rome defeat
05 May 09 |  Tennis
Venus battles through Rome opener
04 May 09 |  Tennis
Keothavong makes early Rome exit
03 May 09 |  Tennis
Jankovic wins Italian Open title
18 May 08 |  Tennis
Jankovic cruises to Rome victory
20 May 07 |  Tennis

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