Serena run comes to a halt in quarters

Kuznetsova packs off US ace; Federer in semis

Serena run comes to  a halt in quarters


The 2006 Roland Garros runner-up will face Australian Samantha Stosur, seeded 30th, for a place in Saturday's final.

Serena, who was on a grand slam 18-match winning streak following her US and Australian Open titles, threatened to fight back but she bowed out after two hours 46 minutes.

"It was the same scenario as Australian Open," said Kuznetsova, who lost 5-7, 7-5,  6-1 in the quarterfinals to Serena in Melbourne. "In the second set, third set I was pushing myself to fight, and still she was break up. With her it's a big difference. She started to serve great, and I'm very proud that I pushed myself and I could fight in the third set."
Kuznetsova, the only player to beat world number one Dinara Safina on clay this season, won the first three games, including two on Serena's serve.

The American turned on the power to snatch a break back and levelled for 5-5 with a backhand that wrong-footed Kuznetsova.

Put under huge pressure by Serena's devastating forehand, the Russian lost her composure and faced a set point in the 12th game.

She saved it with a crosscourt smash and forced a tiebreak with a forehand down the line.

Kuznetsova got a double minibreak for 4-1 courtesy of a jaw-dropping service return winner and a backhand down the line and she sealed the tiebreak 7-3 with a forehand winner after 52 minutes.

The Russian kept her momentum, moving 3-0 up in the second set after Serena netted a forehand in the second game to hand her opponent a break.

At 4-2 and 40-30 Kuznetsova twisted her right ankle as she fell and after wiping off the red dirt, the Russian allowed Serena back into the match by conceding a break. Serena broke again to lead 6-5 when Kuznetsova netted a backhand and levelled the contest with an ace.

The 2004 US Open champion was off the pace at the start of the third set, letting Williams take a 3-1 lead but she broke back in the sixth game.

Kuznetsova wasted two match points in the 10th game with two long forehands but she converted her third chance on her opponent's serve when Serena sent a backhand wide.
"Honestly I think I lost because of me and not because of anything she did," Serena told reporters.  "In the third I had an opportunity and I got really tight, and I pretty much gave it to her."

Stosur booked her place in the semifinals with a 6-1 6-3 victory over Romanian high school student Sorana Cirstea.

Federer through

World number two Roger Federer eased past local favourite Gael Monfils 7-6, 6-2, 6-4 to book his place in the men’s semifinals.  The Swiss will play his fifth consecutive semifinal at Roland Garros against Argentine new kid on the block, Juan Martin Del Potro.

The fifth seed beat Spanish 16th seed Tommy Robredo 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 to reach his first major semifinal.

Federer, the hot favourite after four-times champion Rafael Nadal was knocked out in the fourth round, saved a set point in the first-set tiebreak before clinching it 8-6.  He hung on a double break to take the second and put Monfils out of his misery on his first match point with a backhand winner, keeping alive his dream of winning the only grand slam title to have eluded him.

"I was very nervous before this match, yesterday and today," said the 27-year-old, who now stands just two matches away from equalling Pete Sampras's record of 14 grand slam titles.

"But I have a lot of experience. I know that when I step on the court, I will play well. Or very well."

Results (prefix denotes seeding):
Men’s singles (quarterfinals): 2-Roger Federer (Swiss) bt Gael Monfils (Fra) 7-6, 6-2, 6-4; 5-Juan Martin Del Potro (Arg) bt 16-Tommy Robredo (Spa) 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.
Women’s singles (quarterfinals): 7-Svetlana Kuznetsova (Rus) bt 2-Serena Williams (US) 7-6(3), 5-7, 7-5; 30-Samantha Stosur (Aus) bt Sorana Cirstea (Rom) 6-1, 6-3.
Women’s doubles (semifinals): 3-Anabel Medina Garrigues/ Virginia Ruano Pascual (Esp) bt 1-Cara Black/ Liezel Huber (Zim/US) 7-5, 5-7, 6-2; 12-Victoria Azarenka/Elena Vesnina (Belarus/Russia) bt 9-Hsieh Su-Wei/Peng Shuai (Taiwan/China) 6-3, 7-5.
Mixed doubles (semifinals): 1-Liezel Huber/Bob Bryan (US) bt Anna-Lena Groenefeld/Mark Knowles (Germany/Bahamas) 6-2 6-2.

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