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Serena Shines In QFs, Lisicki Awaits In SFs

Facing a fellow former No.1 and multiple Grand Slam champion, Serena Williams stepped up.

Published July 29, 2011 12:00

Serena Shines In QFs, Lisicki Awaits In SFs
Serena Williams

STANFORD, CA, USA - When the going gets tough, it seems like Serena Williams only gets tougher. In a much-hyped quarterfinal match at the Bank of the West Classic on Friday night Williams completely outclassed No.5-ranked, No.2-seeded Maria Sharapova in an hour and nine minutes, 61 63.

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Playing just her third tournament back from a year out of the game due to injury and illness, she looked like the Williams of old, slamming her serves into the corners, pounding her huge groundstrokes and tracking down almost everything Sharapova hit her way. She had won their last five meetings; she made it six.

"I've just been trying my hardest and practicing and trying to get back in the Top 100," Williams, who is currently at No.169 due to the inactivity, said in her on-court interview. "I'm No.162 right now [sic]. It's a little crazy, but hopefully..."

"It's sport. You win some, you lose some. You move on," Sharapova said in her press conference. "It certainly wasn't my day today. She was serving and returning quite powerfully, and I felt I was extremely late. I didn't have my timing today at all. Even when I had chances to change things around, I didn't do it.

"Serena has come back before. She's experienced enough to come back ready to play. She waited for the right time. When she comes back, she's ready."

Williams was asked about beating a player ranked so high so early in her comeback. "Playing someone in the Top 10 or Top 5, you have to be serious. This tells me I can compete with them," she said. "I'm still climbing though. It's just one match. It's not the US Open, it's not Wimbledon, it's not a Grand Slam - but it's still a great win for the hardcourt season and it's a big event."

Williams is projected to return to around the No.125 mark with the win, and will go even higher if she keeps progressing at the Premier-level tournament.

Next up for Williams will be another player trying to work her way back up the rankings after her own struggles with injury, Sabine Lisicki. The German, who was out of the Top 200 as recently as March but is now at No.26 after a phenomenal grass court season, followed up her second round upset of No.4 seed Samantha Stosur with a 76(4) 26 62 quarterfinal upset over No.5 seed Agnieszka Radwanska, firing 14 aces during the marathon match.

"Agnieszka's a really tough opponent to play. She brings back a lot of balls. I knew I had to serve well and go for my shots but not make a lot of mistakes," Lisicki said. "I feel like I can rely on my serve when I need it. It was a little bit off in the second set but in the first and the third set it was there - but even when it doesn't work, I still have a forehand and backhand I've been very happy with."

Lisicki has won 14 of 15 matches since the beginning of the grass court season. The only loss came to Sharapova in the semifinals of Wimbledon.

Williams and Lisicki will be playing each other for the first time.

The other semifinal will feature No.3 seed Marion Bartoli and No.8 seed Dominika Cibulkova. Bartoli was the first to advance, winning the first set 6-1 on Ayumi Morita before the Japanese had to retire due to a right ankle injury; Cibulkova followed soon after with a 66-minute, 61 61 rout of New Zealand's Marina Erakovic. Erakovic, who was a qualifier, had taken out top seed and defending champion Victoria Azarenka in the second round on Thursday.

"I thought Ayumi played great in her first two matches against Ivanovic and Radwanska. I wish her as speedy a recovery as possible," Bartoli said.

Bartoli and Cibulkova have split their four career meetings, 2-2.

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