Ivanovic downs Venus to make Open semis | sports | Hindustan Times
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Ivanovic downs Venus to make Open semis

sports Updated: Jan 23, 2008 15:10 IST
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Serbian fourth seed Ana Ivanovic overcame American eighth seed Venus Williams in a ferociously-contested 7-6 (7-3), 6-4 thriller to reach the Australian Open semi-finals on Wednesday.

She will meet Slovak ninth seed Daniela Hantuchova for a place in the final after posting her first win over Williams in four attempts, finally gaining revenge after the American last year dumped her from Wimbledon and the US Open.

"I'm just so happy I pulled through the whole two sets," she said.

"It was an amazing match, we had lots of long rallies, she's an amazing competitor and she was also playing very well today."

She dedicated her victory in the most competitive women's tie so far at this year's Australian Open to the Melbourne Park crowd, which included her locally-based relatives and a large contingent of expatriate Serbs.

"It's amazing, thank you guys so much, you helped me get through that second set," she said after the one hour 46 minute clash.

"Most of all I'm thrilled that it happened here because I just love playing here and I'm so comfortable here on court."

Ivanovic, whose fellow Serb Jelena Jankovic on Tuesday eliminated Williams' sister, defending champion Serena, also said her improved fitness was an important part of the victory.

A pumped-up Ivanovic came out firing, breaking Williams to go up 2-0 with a combination of blistering forehand returns and drop shots.

But the veteran six-time Grand Slam champion broke back in the next, helped by a string of errors from Ivanovic.

Neither could hold serve in the next six games, Williams struggling to deal with Ivanovic's powerful groundstrokes and the Serb hampering herself with mistakes as she tried to blast spectacular winners.

The American, her left thigh heavily strapped, stepped up her own aggression at 4-3, handing Ivanovic yet another break point with a double fault, but finally managing to defend her serve.

Ivanovic followed suit to go up 5-4, the American at full stretch to keep up and send the first set to a tiebreak.

The pair matched each other blow for blow in the early stages of the decider, before Williams went behind after netting a return.

She saved set point at 6-3 but again hit the net on the next point, giving Ivanovic the set after 55 minutes.

It was the first set Ivanovic had ever taken from Williams, the furious American holding her Serb rival to love in the opening game of the second.

She then broke Ivanovic after a lengthy rally and raced to a 3-0 lead.

Ivanovic steadied to hold serve, breaking back and going on to snatch another service game from the American in the ninth game.

Williams had two break points as Ivanovic served for the match but the Serb held on, shrieking with joy after finally claiming victory."