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Venus Williams loses at Nasdaq-100 Open
Updated: 2004-04-02 10:10

Venus Williams hit four double-faults, including three in a row to lose the game, opening the door for Elena Dementieva to rally and win 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (3) in the quarterfinals of the Nasdaq-100 Open on Wednesday night.

Williams sprained her right foot during the second set, but shaky serving hurt her more. She had 11 double faults and lost serve six times. With the defeat, Williams missed an opportunity to advance to the semifinals, a drought that began last summer.

Dementieva overcame a match point and erratic play of her own to win the tense but unsightly 2 1/2-hour duel.

"It was a very difficult, long, but I think, interesting match," the No. 5-seeded Russian said.

Williams' defeat spoiled a potential renewal of her sibling rivalry with younger sister Serena in the final Saturday. Instead, Dementieva advanced to the semifinals Thursday night, when she'll play fellow Russian Nadia Petrova, seeded eighth, who beat Nathalie Dechy 6-2, 6-2.

Top-seeded Serena Williams was to play No. 25 Eleni Daniilidou in the other semifinal.

In men's play, No. 3-seeded Guillermo Coria of Argentina and No. 21 Fernando Gonzalez advanced, and they'll play an all-South American semifinal Friday. Coria beat unseeded Nicolas Kiefer 6-3, 6-3, and Gonzalez rallied past unseeded Andrei Pavel 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-4.

Slowed by injuries since last summer, Williams has slipped to No. 17 in the rankings and has played only 10 matches in four events this year, never advancing beyond the quarterfinals. A three-time champion at Key Biscayne, she was seeded second but unable to take advantage of a field missing the world's five highest-ranked players, including No. 1 Justine Henin-Hardenne.

Asked to assess the state of her game, a subdued Williams said: "Just on the up and up."

The latest upset defeat had all the characteristics of a Venus loss: She committed 51 unforced errors and played hurt.

Williams took a nine-minute timeout for treatment when she rolled her right foot in the final game of the second set. She actually played better when the match resumed, winning 14 of the next 17 points to take a 3-0 lead in the last set.

But serving for the match at 5-3, Williams' serve went awry. She faulted six times in a row.

"It was sunny and the wind kept blowing and my toss got crazy," she said. "That was not good."

The errant serves didn't surprise Dementieva.

"I just said to myself, 'She's just like you, you know, she can be nervous,'" Dementieva said with a laugh.

There were other missed chances by Williams. She held a match point at 6-5, but sailed a forehand long, then committed five unforced errors in the tiebreaker.

Dementieva held her own in rallies, but her serve long the weakest part of her game became progressively worse. Serving at 5-6 in the final set, she double-faulted twice and lobbed in several second serves at under 70 mph, but still managed to hold.

Dementieva, who matched Williams' total of 11 double faults, sighed when asked about the problem.

"I don't like the question," she said. "Everybody is asking me about my serve. If you want to be a champion, it's not about your serve, it's about your whole game."

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