Fri, Jan 15, 2010 - Page 20 News List

Battling Serena into Sydney final

REUTERS , SYDNEY

Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus challenges a line call during his match against Lleyton Hewitt of Australia at the Sydney International yesterday.

PHOTO: REUTERS

Serena Williams yesterday survived a scare from France’s Aravane Rezai before booking her spot in the Sydney International final against Russian Elena Dementieva.

The Australian Open champion was teetering on the brink of defeat after losing the first set and trailing 5-2 in the second but she raised her game to win 3-6, 7-5, 6-4.

While Williams had to dig deep, Dementieva had no real problems winning her semi-final against Victoria Azarenka of Belarus.

Dementieva cruised to a 6-3, 6-1 victory at the Olympic tennis center to remain on course to defend her title.

France were at least assured of a place in the men’s final after Richard Gasquet and Julien Benneteau won their last-eight matches.

Gasquet, who resumed playing this month after being cleared over a positive cocaine test, defeated Italy’s Potito Starace 6-3, 7-6 and Benneteau beat Leonardo Mayer of Argentina 6-4, 6-7, 6-0.

Former Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus also reached the semi-finals by beating Australian Lleyton Hewitt 4-6, 6-2, 6-3. He next meets American Mardy Fish, who overcame Australia’s Peter Luczak 7-6 6-2.

■KOOYONG CLASSIC

AFP, MELBOURNE

US Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro yesterday pulled out of his final tune-up match prior to the Australian Open, citing a wrist injury.

His withdrawal was mirrored by Robin Soderling, who quit a semi-final trailing 6-4 against Ivan Ljubicic to avoid doing himself more elbow damage ahead of the season’s opening Grand Slam.

The Del Potro decision puts Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga into tomorrow’s final against Spain’s Fernando Verdasco, who beat Novak Djokovic 6-1, 6-2.

■HOBART INTERNATIONAL

REUTERS, SYDNEY

Spain’s Anabel Medina Garrigues recovered from a loss of ­concentration yesterday to secure her place in the semi-finals of the Hobart International, one of the last events before the Australian Open.

The top seed defeated Argentina’s Gisela Dulko 6-1, 5-7, 6-1 to set up a meeting with Alona Bondarenko today after the Ukrainian fourth seed defeated China’s Zheng Jie 7-5, 7-5.

Unseeded Sara Errani of Italy also progressed to the last four by beating Belgian qualifier Kirsten Flipkens 6-3, 6-4.

Errani will play second seed Shahar Peer after the Israeli beat Spanish fifth seed Carla Suarez Navarro 4-6, 7-6, 7-5.

■HEINEKEN OPEN

AFP, AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND

Giant American John Isner yesterday called on every centimenter of his 206cm frame yesterday to upset Tommy Robredo in their Heineken Open quarter-final. The unseeded American fired 20 booming aces and a powerful barrage of ground strokes to down the world No. 16 with a 7-6 (7/5), 3-6, 6-4 victory.

Isner will play Albert Montanes in today’s semi-final after the eighth seed had a relatively easy 6-3, 6-3 victory over Swiss qualifier Michael Lammer.

Arnaud Clement beat sixth-seeded Austrian Jurgen Melzer 6-2, 7-5. The 32-year-old world No. 67 will face a semi-final clash against 2008 Auckland champion Philipp Kohlschreiber, who defeated Marc Gicquel 6-3, 6-1.

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