Venus fails again as Ivanovic and Hantuchova roll on | sports | Hindustan Times
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Venus fails again as Ivanovic and Hantuchova roll on

Ana Ivanovic brought Venus Williams' Australian Open to a juddering halt Wednesday as the Serbian raced into the semi-finals where she will play Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova.

sports Updated: Jan 23, 2008 15:15 IST

Ana Ivanovic brought Venus Williams' Australian Open to a juddering halt Wednesday as the Serbian raced into the semi-finals where she will play Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova.

It was a sorry end for Williams who was desperate to claim her first title at Melbourne Park to add to her four Wimbledon and two US Open crowns.

With her sister Serena, the defending champion, also out, it spelt the end of the tournament for the Williams' clan.

Ivanovic overcame the American eighth seed in a ferociously-contested 7-6 (7/3), 6-4 thriller, and credited the crowd on centre court and her improved fitness for helping her into the last four for the first time.

"It was an amazing match, we had lots of long rallies, she's an amazing competitor and she was also playing very well today," the 20-year-old fourth seed said after the one hour 46 minute clash.

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

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

She will play ninth seed Hantuchova, ensuring at least one player in the final on Saturday will be contesting their first Australian decider.

In the other semi-final, fellow Serb Jelena Jankovic takes on fifth seeded Russian Maria Sharapova on Thursday.

Hantuchova emphatically announced her Grand Slam comeback when she outclassed Polish teenager Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2, 6-2.

The win ended Radwanska's giant-killing run, which included second seed Svetlana Kuznetsova and former world number three Nadia Petrova, and confirmed the 25-year-old Slovak's return to the big-time.

She is in her first Grand Slam semi-final and it comes five years after her last Grand Slam quarter-final appearance here.

"I kept believing and here I am in the semis," she said.

"It feels great. Every tennis player knows what I'm talking about when you get to that point when you feel like everything you touch is going in and I want to go on as long as possible."

Hantuchova, who said before the match that she had been unlucky to be drawn against Justine Henin and the Williams sisters in the early rounds of recent Grand Slams, made the most of her chance against the unfancied Pole.

"At the beginning I was a little bit tight but once I warmed up I felt like I was hitting the ball well and tactically I think I played quite a smart game," she said.

Radwanska admitted she had butterflies in her stomach but blamed her loss on Hantuchova simply being better on the day.

"She was playing very long balls, close to the baseline. It was very hard to play," she said.

"But I'm very happy that I made my first Grand Slam quarter-final, and I beat two good Russian players, both seeded, along the way."

World number one Roger Federer is back on court later Wednesday as he aims to make his fifth consecutive Australian semi-final. Standing in his way is American 12th seed James Blake.

In Wednesday's other men's quarter-final, fifth seed David Ferrer of Spain is up against Serbian young gun Novak Djokovic, the third seed.