Venus Williams has beaten third-seeded Dinara Safina 6-4, 6-2 at the Porsche Grand Prix to set up a semifinal showdown with the next No 1, Jelena Jankovic.
Safina has powerful groundstrokes but in Williams she met an opponent who can hit just as hard and who also had more precision. The two had never played before.
"I had to work very hard because she played at 200 per cent," Williams said after the match on Friday. "It's very exciting to win against a player who has had such a great year."
Jankovic came back from a break down in each set to edge seventh-seeded Vera Zvonareva for the second time in two weeks, winning 7-6 (8), 7-6 (5). Jankovic is assured of being No 1 when the new WTA Tour rankings come out Monday.
Safina has won four titles this year and the Russian has risen to a career-high No 3 in the rankings.
Williams won only one title this year, but it was a major one, at Wimbledon. The American is playing in her first Stuttgart tournament in 10 years and is going for the red Porsche 911 sports car given by the title sponsor to the champion.
"I love fast cars. I really hope to try it as the winner," the sixth-seeded Williams said.
If she plays as well as she did against Safina, Williams might have her wish come true. She broke for 5-4 and hit a service winner to take the first set.