Venus Williams Moves On, Rezai Surprises

Madrid Open 2010
By Hiland Doolittle, May 15th, 2010

Venus Williams

Venus Williams Moves On

Venus Williams is the only seed left standing as the tall American ran her record to 4-0 against hot playing Australian Samantha Stosur in a Friday quarterfinal. Williams has yet to lose a set in Madrid and continues to show the composure that has led to one of her most successful campaigns. Not known as a strong clay court player, Williams has been on cruise control in Spain.

The graceful number 4 seed had to share the spotlight with unheralded upstart Aravane Rezai, who continued her Cinderella bid on the red clay of Madrid by ousting 7th seed Serb Jalena Jankovic to seal a semifinal berth. It was a busy day at the 2010 Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open with four women poised to battle for the final berths on Saturday.

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On Friday, Stosur played well and showed the form that has led her to 21 wins in her last 25 matches. Despite a strong serve, Samantha could not equal Venus, falling 6-3, 6-3. Under pressure, there may only be one tour player that is the equal to Venus and that is her younger sister, Serena.

Against the Aussie, Williams delivered an early message, beginning the match with three consecutive aces. But, when the sets were on the line, Williams asserted her most powerful play. At 3-3 in the first set, Williams ran off three straight to capture set one. At 2-3 in the second set, Venus made a four game run to close the second set and send Stosur packing.

The match did not feature the long points typical to clay as the big serving pair went right at each other. In the final set, Venus won 12 of the last 13 points.

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The veteran American will play another veteran, Israel’s Shahar Peer, who surprised China’s up and coming Li Na in a grueling three setter 6-4, 3-6, 6-4. After dropping the second set, Peer jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the third set but Li was not finished. The game 13th seed rallied to get back in the set at 4-5. Peer held serve in game ten to conclude the 2 hour 35 minute battle.

Lucie Safarova is fast becoming a player nobody wants to meet. She showed why on Friday with a surprising 6-1, 1-6, 6-4 win over Serena Williams conquereress Nadia Petrova. Safarova has reached the quarters in each of the last three weeks. This time, she moves on to the semis. Lucie broke Nadia in the second game of the third set and made the break hold. Petrova had her chances but could not convert in key points.

Aravane Rezai of France

Aravane Rezai of France

Safarova will next meet France’s 23-year old Aravane Rezai who has slugged her way to one upset after another in Madrid. The 5’5” heavy hitter had her devastating two-handed backhand on display Friday. Seventh seeded Jalena Jankovic seemed to be caught off guard in a match that must have reminded the Serb of her Wimbledon upset at the hands of another 5’5” tyke Melanie Oudin.

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Aravane has shown glimpses of potential this season. She reached the semis in Sydney where she led Serena Williams 6-3, 5-2 before falling in three sets. On Friday, she led Jankovic 5-3 before losing three sets points. She finally served out the set at 7-5. In the second set, Aravane rallied from a 1-3 deficit to oust Jankovic 7-5, 6-4.

The Frenchwoman has only lost one set in the event and that was to the first set against Justine Henin. She has shown some nervousness closing out sets, but her clay game is powerful and her foot speed is unsurpassed. Her semifinal match with Lucie will be interesting as two future stars go at each other.


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