Serena grinds into semi-finals of Toronto Cup

Fri Aug 12, 2011 11:11pm EDT
 
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By Frank Pingue

TORONTO (Reuters) - A battle-tested Serena Williams booked her spot in the semi-finals of the Toronto Cup on Friday after overcoming a sluggish start to grind out a 4-6 6-3 6-2 win over Czech Lucie Safarova.

Williams, whose 11-month layoff with injury and health problems ended in June, was a shadow of herself in the first set but rallied with raw power and shot-making to wrap up the match without losing serve in the last two sets.

"I could have had a better chance in the first set but I lost some key points," Williams, who won the Stanford Classic last month and is on a nine-match winning streak, told reporters.

"It was all about maybe one or two points here that would've made a difference and some silly double faults that didn't make sense."

The third set went with serve until Williams broke world number 32 Safarova in an intense fifth game in which she unleashed several loud screams to get herself going.

The vocal strategy seemed to pay off as she wrapped up the match without conceding another game.

The former world number one, unseeded here because of her long layoff, faces her toughest test yet against Belarusian Victoria Azarenka, who has not lost a set en route to the semi-finals and is the highest seeded player left in the draw.

Azarenka ended Kazakh qualifier Galina Voskoboeva's surprise run with a clinical 6-1 6-2 victory.   Continued...

 
<p>Serena Williams of the US returns a shot to Lucie Safarova of The Czech Republic during their quarter-final match at the Rogers Cup women's tennis tournament in Toronto, August 12, 2011. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>