Serena Williams reaches Rome semifinals

Published May 6, 2010

ROME – Top-ranked Serena Williams dispatched Maria Kirilenko 6-1, 6-4 Thursday, then waited to see if she will meet sister Venus in the Italian Open semifinals.

Venus Williams was up against Jelena Jankovic in a night match of former Rome champions at the Foro Italico.

"I have a really tough opponent next match whether it's Venus or Jelena," Serena said. "Obviously, 'Go V!'"

In the other half of the draw, 26th-ranked Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez of Spain defeated Lucie Safarova 7-6 (6), 6-4.

Martinez Sanchez's semifinal opponent will be either former No. 1 Ana Ivanovic or Nadia Petrova, who were next to play in new 10,500-seat stadium, which was less than half full.

After cruising through the first set and taking a 4-0 lead in the second, Serena lost three straight games before regaining control on her service games. She blasted aces at 123 mph and fired baseline winners at will.

Serena had a 8-1 edge in aces and 19-7 in winners.

Serena has been out with a left knee injury since winning the Australian Open in January. This is her first tournament back. She won this clay-court warmup for the French Open in 2002 en route to her only title at Roland Garros.

"I can't believe I'm still in the tournament," she said. "It's weird."

Martinez Sanchez maintained her focus during a brief downpour that interrupted play for 15 minutes just after the start of the first-set tiebreaker. The Spaniard also controlled the play with her big first serve, landing seven aces.

Written by ANDREW DAMPF, AP Sports Writer

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