UPDATE 1-Tennis-Serena, Russian trio reach Toronto semi-finals

Sat Aug 22, 2009 7:31am BST

Related Topics

* Williams to face Dementieva

* Kleybanova upsets Jankovic, meets Sharapova (Adds late matches, quotes)

By Steve Keating

TORONTO, Aug 21 (Reuters) - World number two Serena Williams brushed aside qualifier Lucie Safarova 6-3 6-2 to reach the semi-finals of the Toronto Cup on Friday, where she was joined by a trio of Russians.

Williams needed just 57 minutes on a blustery centre court to breeze into the last four and set up a mouth-watering Wimbledon rematch with fourth seed Elena Dementieva, while Alisa Kleybanova will meet Maria Sharapova in the other semi-final.

Tennis fans can expect a treat if Williams and Dementieva serve up a repeat of their Wimbledon semi, which the American edged 8-6 in the third set.

"I think it will be a great match, our last match was really insane," Williams told reporters. "I love playing her, it will be good.

"I just feel like I've kind of played my way into a rhythm. I felt really good out there today, I felt like I was really consistent and moving well."

The 11-times grand slam winner has displayed impressive form on the Canadian hardcourts, surrendering no more than five games in any match.

Williams needed a few games to find her range but once she did Safarova had no answer, the 2001 champion winning seven games in a row to close out the opening set and build a 4-0 lead in the second.

In contrast to Williams's quick-fire win, Dementieva was made to sweat for her spot in the last four, rallying for a 6-7 6-1 6-3 victory over feisty Australian Samantha Stosur.

GRITTY PERFORMANCE

But no player worked harder for her semi-final place than 36th ranked Kleybanova, who won a riveting three hour, 16 minute 6-7 7-6 6-2 slugfest over fifth-seeded Serb Jelena Jankovic.

Kleybanova's gritty performance earned her a loud ovation from an appreciative crowd and a Saturday date with former number one Sharapova.

Bidding for her first career title, Kleybanova failed to convert five set points in the opener before Jankovic snatched it in a tie-break.

The 20-year-old Russian took the second set in a tie-break and when Jankovic, still feeling the affects of a late-night match against Kim Clijsters on Thursday, began to wilt in the third, Kleybanova swept through the last four games to seal the upset win.

"When you have so many important points and every point is so tough, you have to give 100 percent," Kleybanova told reporters.

"It really kills your brain more than physical. I think today is the best match I have done."

Sharapova, working her way back to top form after nine months on the sidelines recovering from shoulder surgery, came back from 5-2 down in the second set to claim a 6-2 7-6 victory over 14th seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland. (Editing by Peter Rutherford. To query or comment on this story email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com)

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