Serena Williams rallied from a first set blowout and survived some tense moments in the third set to outlast an in-form Ana Ivanovic at the Bank Of The West Classic.
WTA Staff

STANFORD, CA, USA - A few hours after Venus Williams was edged by Andrea Petkovic in a thriller, Serena Williams toughed out another thriller against Ana Ivanovic, rallying from a first set blowout and surviving some tense moments in the third set to battle through to the semifinals, 2-6, 6-3, 7-5.

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Things didn't look so great for the No.1-seeded Williams early on - she got broken in her opening service game and ended up losing the first set comprehensively in just 29 minutes. But she started the turnaround right from the beginning of the second set, storming out to a 3-0 lead, and soon she had the second set and a 3-1 lead in the third - it looked a bit like she would roll to a three set victory.

The No.5-seeded Ivanovic wasn't done, though - she won the next three games to get back on serve, and a few games later she found herself dead even with Williams at 5-all. But Williams broke for 6-5 then stepped up to the serve one last time, blasting two aces en route to a routine hold to end it.

The numbers for the highly-competitive match couldn't have been more even - Williams finished with 32 winners to 31 unforced errors, Ivanovic finished with an even 31 winners to 31 unforced errors.

Awaiting Williams in the semifinals is No.8 seed Andrea Petkovic, who edged Venus Williams in a thriller earlier in the day, 6-1, 3-6, 7-5. Petkovic originally led 6-1, 2-0 when Williams came alive - but Petkovic steadied herself and eventually made it past the seven-time Grand Slam champion.

"It was a weird match," Petkovic said. "At the beginning it was almost no match at all, then all of a sudden she started playing really well. I played one of my best games at 5-all in the third set when I was serving, and I hit four really good forehands. That gave me confidence for the next game.

"I just tried to stay focused because it felt like I played four different matches in one."

But the other Williams has beaten Petkovic in all three of their previous meetings.

"Both times we've played this year she played really amazing, and she served really well both times too - I consider my return one of my best shots, and did I even break her?" Petkovic said. "That's one of the things that keeps her game together, I think. Whenever I see her serving well, she plays well from every other shot, because she knows she has the security that she's not going to get broken.

"Tomorrow I'll have to try and be aggressive, and if I get a chance, step in and take it."