Dementieva advances after Serena's injury

Serena Williams (picture) has withdrawn from the Sony championships with a stomach muscle injury, ending her hopes of finishing the year on a high note. Dementieva joins her compatriot Vera Zvonareva, Jelena Jankovic, and Venus in the semi-finals.


Serena Williams' chances of ending the year on a high note evaporated unexpectedly when she withdrew Friday from the Sony Ericsson championships with a stomach muscle problem.

The younger of the two world-beating sisters had been in tears during her oddly one-sided 5-7, 6-1, 6-0 defeat to Venus Williams during their round robin match Thursday - and it emerged that she may have suffered the injury then.

"I had zero pain last night," Serena said of her post-match experience. "But I didn't serve well and I think that's why I was doing that. I might have been over-compensating.

"When I got home I didn't feel pain. But when I woke up I was in pain. I have had this before and so when I felt this it was like a red flag. I went to see how I felt in practice yesterday, and it was hard when I was hitting ground strokes. I didn't want to risk it."

Serena was challenged by a British journalist who suggested that sometimes in a major tournament such as this she should play through the pain for the sake of the event and for the sponsors.

"I think what I should do is make you work out, have a severe stomach strain and play for the sponsors," she chided.

When the journalist suggested he would have, Serena responded with satirical laughter, adding: "You really should. You should go for it and live the dream!"

Later she explained: "I had this once in LA and played through it and I was out for six to eight weeks. So when I had these symptoms I thought I must start the new year well. I can't afford to be out for so long."

The setback means that Serena is unable to take the chance of avenging herself for her Olympic loss to Elena Dementieva, who went on to take the gold medal in Beijing in August.

Nadia Petrova came in as the second alternate to take on her fellow Russian instead, but Dementieva is already certain of qualifying for the semi-finals, where she joins her compatriot Vera Zvonareva, Jelena Jankovic, and Venus.

It was the tournament's second major setback within two hours, for earlier another former world number one, Ana Ivanovic, withdrew with a virus.

Jankovic, the world number one from Serbia, was meanwhile beaten Friday by Zvonareva, the last player to qualify for the original eight.

The little-considered Russian's 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 surprise victory means that she remains unbeaten with three wins, finishes top of her group, and avoids facing Wimbledon champion Venus Williams in Saturday's semi-finals.

Instead, Zvonareva will meet her compatriot Dementieva, the Olympic champion, while Venus will play Jankovic.

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