Serena survives Ivanovic scare in Cincinnati

Fri Aug 21, 2015 11:16pm EDT
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(Reuters) - Defending champion Serena Williams reached the semi-finals of the Western & Southern tournament in Cincinnati but not before having her mettle tested in a 3-6 6-4 6-2 win over sixth-seeded Serb Ana Ivanovic on Friday.

Williams, who will be chasing a calendar sweep of the four grand slams at the Aug. 31-Sept. 13 U.S. Open, struggled with her serve and was forced to come from behind several times in a rematch of last year's final.

"Out of the previous nine times we've played I think we've gone three sets at least six times so I know she plays really well," the top-seeded American said in an on-court interview.

"She's been number one, she's won a grand slam. I knew it was going to be a big test for me today and I'm really happy I was able to get through."

Ivanovic did well to contain her opponent's powerful serve, most notably in the first set when she broke three times in four games to pull ahead 5-3 before delivering an incredible backhand winner to hold to love.

A topsy-turvy second set saw Williams grab the first three games and Ivanovic the next four before the world number one roared back to win the next three.

The Serb then grabbed the opening two games of the final set but Williams shifted into a higher gear to win six in a row and advance.

The American landed only 31 percent of her first serves in the opening set and 47 percent in the second but was much more efficient in the third, chalking up 68 percent.

"I just decided that if I wanted to stay out here and keep playing I had to pick my game up a level," said Williams who now has a 9-1 career record against Ivanovic.   Continued...

Serena Williams (USA) reacts against Ana Ivanovic (not pictured) in the quarterfinals during the Western and Southern Open tennis tournament at the Linder Family Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports