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    Serena eases into Dubai semis, Myskina goes out

2005-03-05 05:43

DUBAI: Serena Williams eased into the semi-finals of the Dubai Open with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova on Thursday.

However, French Open champion Anastasia Myskina's run of miserable form continued when she was beaten 6-7, 7-6, 6-2 by Switzerland's Patty Schnyder, who now faces top seed Lindsay Davenport after the American posted a comfortable 6-1, 6-4 win over former Wimbledon champion Conchita Martinez.

Williams will face former junior world No 1 Jelena Jankovic, after the Serb beat India's Sania Mirza 6-2, 6-2.

Williams, the Australian Open champion, showed none of the carelessness of her opening match against Elena Bovina.

She was particularly fast around the court, kept pressure on Hantuchova by hitting deep, and served well.

Hantuchova was unable to pressure Williams for any length of time and struggled to produce any of the winners down the line that are such an important feature of her game.

"I definitely had fun today. It was a nice match," said Williams. "I didn't want to get off to a slow start again, especially against someone like Daniela.

"I moved better today, and I just think I was a little more focused. It's getting used to this court and the balls, and each day I get better."

Third-seeded Myskina said she had been struggling and laid the blame on just 20 days break between seasons after leading Russia to victory in the 2004 Fed Cup.

"I'm really disappointed with my performance since Australia," said Myskina. "I'm (making) a lot of unforced errors and I'm really (not) confident on the court right now.

"But we can't play 365 days a year. We're human beings and can get tired or have a bad day. We can't just go on the court and be a robot."

Neither player managed to find any consistency, with Myskina breaking twice to lead 4-1 in the first set before the Swiss levelled at 4-4. Despite breaking again to lead 6-5, Myskina was unable to serve out the set.

The Russian swept the tiebreak then lost her momentum and dropped her serve to love in the opening game of the second set.

Schnyder then built a 4-0 lead before allowing Myskina to level and take a 5-4 lead.

The Russian held a match point on Schnyder's serve at 6-5, but that was saved with a forehand winner and Schnyder went on to take the tiebreak.

After early breaks in the third set, Myskina double-faulted to gift Schnyder a 4-2 lead and, dispirited, she allowed Schnyder to break her again to love in the final game.

Davenport was more comfortable against Martinez than she had been on Wednesday in beating Chinese qualifier Zheng Jie.

The American broke three times in the first set against her sluggish opponent and while Martinez lifted her game in the second and built a 4-2 lead, Davenport again asserted herself and swept the last four games for the loss of just four points.

Mirza was no match for Jankovic and, despite encouragement from the crowd, her challenge lasted just 48 minutes.

"To be honest, I don't think I played that badly," said Mirza.

"She wasn't missing the ball. I guess it was just one of her best days. I watched her play against Farina Elia and she definitely didn't play like this.

"I guess I was just trying to hit the lines because she wasn't missing. So I was trying to do a bit too much, I guess."

(China Daily 03/05/2005 page12)


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