Venus Williams and Caroline Wozniacki set up an all-former World No.1 semifinal battle at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. It will be their first time playing each other in almost six years.
WTA Staff

DUBAI, UAE - Caroline Wozniacki and Venus Williams set up an all-former World No.1 semifinal clash at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships with straight set wins in Thursday's quarterfinals.

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Williams was the first to move through, winning a tight two-setter against Flavia Pennetta, 63 75. Pennetta had been somewhat of a thorn in Williams' side over the years - she had won four of their seven career meetings going in, and three of their last four on hardcourts as well - and at the start of the match it looked like maybe that pattern would continue, as she broke early and built a 3-1 lead.

But Williams got right back into orbit, reeling off seven games to build a 63 20 lead and eventually getting a game away from victory at 63 53. Pennetta put up some heavy resistance - she caught up to 5-all, saving a match point along the way, and she had leads in the next two games as well - but Williams finished strong, winning five points in a row from 0-40 while serving for the match.

"She keeps fighting. She stays relevant. That's what she does really well - she stays in the point," Williams said. "I have to give her credit for that. I think I could have maybe made a couple more shots, but it's not always easy against someone who competes as well as her. She's been playing well."

And more on how she herself played? "I felt good," she commented. "It was an adjustment playing someone like her. Her game is different than Ivanovic. I had to be more patient; the points are going to be longer. We have to be a little bit more measured. I think in the beginning of the match I wasn't really in that mode, but as the match went on, then I started to kind of self-correct myself a little bit."

Next up for Williams is one of the most consistent - or relevant and competitive - players out there, with a No.8-seeded Wozniacki storming past Sorana Cirstea in just an hour and two minutes, 61 62.

Cirstea had pulled off surprises against Roberta Vinci and Sara Errani en route to the quarters.

"I went into today's match with maybe higher expectations, but all credit to Caroline," Cirstea said afterwards "She played great today. I think she played one of the best matches I have ever played against her. Very solid, quite aggressive from the start. She definitely deserved this win today."

Williams has beaten Wozniacki in all four of their previous meetings, and in straight sets too, but they haven't played in almost six years - Wozniacki had just broken into the Top 50 at that point.

"Venus is a great, great player," Wozniacki said. "I remember growing up in the juniors, I would say, 'Oh, this girl has a good serve.' My dad would be like, 'What? No, it's not Venus or Serena on the other side. Come on, no one has good serves on the junior tour.' Then I made it to the WTA tour and I was playing against Venus for the first time, and I'm like, 'Okay, dad, give me the tactics now, what am I supposed to do on that return?' And he just goes, 'Oh well, I don't know. Suit yourself out there.'

"I remember that. We just had a good laugh about it. But I played her four times in a row pretty close to each other. We had close matches back then, but a lot has changed and it'll be a good match."

An interesting factoid - not including Fed Cup, the last time Williams played doubles with anyone apart from Serena Williams actually came with Wozniacki at Doha in February 2008 (they reached the second round together). Williams has played her last 22 WTA-level tournaments with her sister.