Ivanovic comeback gathers pace at Rome tennis Open

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ROME: Former world number one Ana Ivanovic continued her return to form at the claycourt Rome Open at the Foro Italico here on Thursday as she took her third successive seed’s scalp.


The Serbian beauty beat 13th seed Nadia Petrova 6-2, 7-5 to reach Friday’s semi-finals following victories over ninth seed Viktoria Azarenka and fifth seed Elena Dementieva.


Two years ago Ivanovic had climbed to the top of the world rankings and also won the French Open but her star has fallen far since then and she currently sits at number 58.


"This is all behind me now and I think every player in one way or another goes through a tough time and I think it is not how many times you fall but how many times you get back up," she said.


"This tournament and these victories that I have had this week mean a lot to me because I have put in so much work, not only in the last months but also the last year and it was just not happening.


"Now I am just so happy to be back on track."


Petrova paid for a tide of unforced errors – she racked up 32 by the end – and gave up victory with a forehand into the tramlines.


World number one Serena Williams had few problems in dismissing Russia‘s Maria Kirilenko 6-1, 6-4.


But she was denied a semi-final against her sister after an out-of-sorts Venus was crushed 6-0, 6-1 by seventh seed Jelena Jankovic.


Serena, who had not played since winning the Australian Open in January, looked set for a particularly short afternoon as she took 10 of the first 11 games against her 37th ranked opponent, who had taken her to three sets as a teenager at Roland Garros six years ago.


But Kirilenko rallied to win three games in a row as Serena’s forehand went to pot.


"That just boils down a little bit to match toughness. I definitely felt it should have been 5-0 and me serving it out," said Serena.


"But I was up against an opponent who never gives up, she’s known for that.


"As I play more I’ll definitely know how to close these games out."


She steadied herself to hold at 4-3 and then served out the match despite her unforced error count creeping up at the end.


But having smashed down eight aces and 19 outright winners, her 18 unforced errors did not stop her advancing.


When asked if it was the sexy performance she had promised after her third round victory, she replied: "I think so, it was fast, hot and sweaty.


"Sometimes I just say ‘Serena, hit an ace’ and it happens, which is kind of cool.


"But I wouldn’t do that on every point, I don’t want to wear my arm out so I mix it up and try to make it exciting for everyone," she joked.


Last year she was knocked out here in her first match, one of three opening match defeats in a row ahead of the French Open, where she reached the quarter-finals.


Venus was a shadow of her usual self as she succumbed in under an hour.


The first set flew by in 29 minutes as the world number four made 11 unforced errors to just one by her Serbian opponent.


And when she held serve at the start of the second it seemed as if she had found her game, but that was nothing more than an interlude as Jankovic quickly regained the ascendancy.


And she said she will need to continue in this vein on Friday.


"When you play against a Williams you can’t relax at all, you just have to go out there and give it your best," she said.


Ivanovic will play another unseeded player in Spain‘s Maria Martinez-Sanchez who beat the Czech Republic‘s Lucie Safarova 7-6 (8/6), 6-4.


The 27-year-old, ranked 26 in the world, had already shocked world number two Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark in the previous round.


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