Jelena Jankovic booked her semi-final berth at the US$600,000 WTA hardcourt tournament on Friday, continuing her progress toward the world No. 1 ranking.
The top-seeded Serb, who can overtake countrywoman Ana Ivanovic atop the WTA world rankings by lifting the trophy here, passed her toughest test so far this week with a 7-5, 6-4 victory over ninth-seeded Russian Nadia Petrova.
Although Petrova had lost four of six prior career meetings with Jankovic, she was runner-up to Ivanovic last year on the courts of the Home Depot Center in the Los Angeles suburb of Carson.
While Jankovic doesn’t have to contend this week with Ivanovic, who didn’t return to defend her title, Jankovic has been dealing with a nagging knee injury she suffered at Wimbledon.
In the semi-finals, the 23-year-old will face fourth-seeded Russian Dinara Safina, who beat eighth seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus 6-3, 6-1.
Safina, ranked ninth in the world, is enjoying a breakout season, with a triumph in Berlin and a run to the French Open final, where she lost to Ivanovic.
The 22-year-old Safina is now 20-3 since the start of May and has beaten the likes of former No. 1 Justine Henin, Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams in that span.
Andy Murray upset defending champion Novak Djokovic with a 6-3, 7-6 (3) quarter-final win on Friday night at the Rogers Cup. Murray dominated Djokovic in the first set and held him off in the second.
“It’s not easy. You have to try to be as consistent as much as you can if you want to stay at the top,” Djokovic said. “You have players like Andy, still young and up and coming ... Now there’s a lot of great players, and everybody is working hard to get to the top.”
Murray, who had lost all four previous head-to-heads, chased down everything and made difficult shot after difficult shot.
“It’s a big win mentally for me,” Murray said. “You know, the last three times I played him, I lost pretty badly.”
Djokovic, for his part, committed 36 unforced errors to Murray’s 19, with 20 of those coming off his forehand.
“In general, I was not really happy with my performance,” Djokovic said.
Murray will play second-seeded Rafael Nadal in the semis after the Spanish star beat 10th-seeded Richard Gasquet of France 6-7 (12), 6-2, 6-1.
Seventh-seeded James Blake became the latest big-name player to lose at the Rogers Cup when he was routed 6-1, 6-2 by Nicolas Kiefer of Germany. Kiefer, ranked 37th, will play Gilles Simon.
AP, PORTOROZ, Slovenia
Eight-seeded Sara Errani eliminated No. 1 Maria Kirilenko 6-1, 7-5 on Friday, winning her eighth straight match to reach the semi-finals at the Slovenia Open.
Errani, who won last week’s WTA Tour event in Palermo, Italy, next faces third-seeded Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, who beat Russia’s Vera Dushevina 6-0, 6-1.
Wozniacki faced only three break points, won 80 percent of the points on her first serve and needed only 54 minutes to defeat Dushevina.