Top seed Dinara Safina stamped her authority over Spaniard Maria-Jose Martinez Sanchez, beating her 4-6, 6-3, 6-0, to storm into the semi-finals of the Rome International tennis.
The 2006 finalist and current world number one, who lost the Foro Italico final three years ago to Martina Hingis, will face 1999 champion Venus Williams, who defeated Polish 10th seed Agnieszka Radwanska 6-1, 6-2.
This is for the second time in a row Safina rallied back to advance, saving 11 of 15 break points while breaking her opponent seven times in the two-and-a-quarter-hour battle on Thursday.
The Russian improved to 21-6 this season as she seeks her first 2009 trophy after four in 2008.
The Rome reign of Jelena Jankovic ended and with it in her bid to lift a third straight title here. The third seed crashed out to Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova 1-6, 6-7 (3-7) in the quarter-final.
Kuznetsova on Friday will face Miami champion Victoria Azarenka, the Belarus sixth seed who put out Kaia Kanepi of Estonia 7-6 (7-5), 6-3.
The smiling Jankovic was not overly dismayed as she packed her bags for the weekend start in Spain for the new Madrid Masters on clay. "It's great, because I got to play some matches on clay," she said.
"I won the tournament in Marbella and won two matches in Spain for Fed Cup and then played some matches as well in Stuttgart and here. I think I'm doing well for the preparation for the French Open, which is my main goal."
But last season's year-end number one admitted that something is missing.
"I wanted to win here for three times in a row - and unfortunately that didn't happen. But it's not the end of world. All I care is to enjoy my tennis and to be happy," Jankovic said. "This is the way it goes. Somebody has to lose, and today it was me."
Kuznetsova won in 1 hour, 38 minutes, breaking Jankovic four times.
"She was playing very good tennis out there, hitting the ball very, very well with a lot of power and depth," said Jankovic.
"She didn't allow me to play my game. I changed tactics in the second set, but it was too late. I missed on two set points in the second. Today was her day. She was the better player and deserved to win."