- Dubai - Serena Williams - tennis - Venus Williams
AFP - The Williams sisters earned the right to play each other for the 19th time when both won their quarter-finals in straight sets against illustrious opponents in the two million-dollar Dubai Open.
Serena Williams, the top seeded US and Australian Open champion, made a storming recovery from 2-4 down in the second set to beat Ana Ivanovic, the French Open champion, 6-4, 6-4 in a match in which it was a surprise that one of them did not puncture a ball.
Venus Williams, the sixth-seeded Wimbledon champion, won 6-3, 6-3 against Elena Dementieva, the Olympic champion, making a breakaway start and only losing the momentum for one brief moment in the second set.
Their head-to-head stands at nine wins each, with Venus having won their last encounter, on a similar surface in Doha in November, before going to win the WTA Championships, the tour's year-end event.
That may have made more of a mark on Serena's memory, for she was more upset than usual after that loss, and alluded to it when asked to talk about their upcoming meeting.
"She killed me last time," Serena said. "Hopefully I will be able to do better this time."
Her racquet certainly did plenty of talking against Ivanovic. She broke the Serbian's serve at once, and though she lost the advantage, she was punishing many of the second deliveries and it was no surprise when she broke again for 4-3, with the help of one return of serve which may have burnt the court.
Ivanovic was just as forceful and launched into some tremendous attacks which carried her to a 3-0 and got the crowd roaring in support of her.
"I like people coming at me. And next time I play her I will know what to expect more," said Serena, referring to the fact that they had only played once before. "But I was only down one break and I knew what to do."
When Ivanovic lost her advantage, she lost it disastrously, delivering two double faults in a row to drop service in the seventh game, though much of that may have been due to the consistent pressure Serena applied to anything short, telegraphed, or lacking penetration.
Ivanovic lost her next service game too, this time from 40-15 up, though this had much more to do with the quality of Serena's returns than any Ivanovic failings.
Serena closed it out with a flourish and indicated her pleasure at playing Venus again. Venus' performance in beating Dementieva however was impressive too.
She broke at once, raced to a 3-0 lead, and nearly made it two breaks before consolidating so well that she lost only three points on her serve all set.
Venus was not only serving solidly, she was striking the ball cleanly too, though there was a brief crisis in the middle of the second set when Venus saved a break point at 30-40 in the sixth game, coming to the net and putting a backhand volley away.
That turned the match. She broke at once for 4-3, with the help of two Dementieva double faults and having taken it to 5-3, broke Dementieva again to leave the Olympic champion looking deflated.
"She's been playing great tennis this year," Venus said of Dementieva. "She's a great player. So to come and control the match like that - that's how I always wish to play."
She had one other wish too. "I hope I play Serena," she said. That came true as well."
Virginie Razzano, the world number 58 from Nimes, scored her second win of the week over a top ten player to reach the biggest semi-final of her career, winning 7-6 (9/7), 7-5 against Vera Zvonareva, the world number five from Russia.
Razzano next plays Kaia Kanepi, who beat Russia's Elena Vesnina, 6-3, 7-5 in the other quarter-final.