Sun, May 11, 2008 - Page 18 News List

Giant killer sends Serena packing

AFP , BERLIN

Giant killer Dinara Safina took her second major scalp in two days as she beat former world No.1 Serena Williams at the German Open just 24 hours after dispatching top seed Justine Henin.

Having beaten neither Williams nor Henin before this week, the 22-year-old Russian, ranked 17th in the world, out-muscled Williams’ power-game to book her place in the semi-finals with a dramatic 2-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7/5) win.

She also ended Williams’ 17-match unbeaten run and was due to play unseeded Victoria Azarenka in yesterday’s semi-finals.

“Tomorrow is just another day,” said Safina, who admitted she was just taking one game at a time after her second major win of the tournament.

Williams was disappointed with her performance.

“I didn’t play at all well, I have never hit so many double faults [seven] in one game,” Williams said. “I definitely lost that match, rather than she won it off me, it just wasn’t my day out there. It wasn’t pretty for me out there at all.”

Williams had beaten Safina in all their three previous meetings and having taken the first set 6-2 the American looked comfortable and there was little hint of the battle ahead.

The Russian immediately responded by forcing Williams into a series of mistakes, including four double faults, and kept the American pinned to the base line to romp into a 5-0 lead in the second set.

Williams, ranked fifth in the world, started to show her frustration and although she picked up a game, Safina was not to be denied to take the second set 6-1.

But with eight Grand Slam titles to her name, Williams knows what to do under pressure and a battle of wills emerged in the third set with neither side giving an inch.

The set went to a tie-break and after a series of hard fought rallies, Safina earned two match points and held her nerve to claim victory.

Serbia’s Jelena Jankovic was a quarter-final casualty as she was humbled 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 by Russian seventh seed Elena Dementieva, who will play either defending champion Ana Ivanovic or Hungary’s Agnes Szavay in the semi-final. Their quarter-final was suspended on Friday night, due to falling darkness, with both players having won a set.

Earlier, Azarenka from Belarus upset 15th seed Alona Bondarenko in straight sets. The teenager held her nerve to win the first set tie-breaker 7-2 and then had few problems as she took the second set 6-2.

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