Number 1 seed Serena Williams met her match today in Stanford when she faced unseeded Samantha Stosur in the quarterfinals. Williams and Stosur are two of the very best servers on the tour, and their skills were certainly on display during this match. When Stosur came back from her long illness time-out, I wondered what she would be able to do in singles. What she did was to retain her great serve and her volleying skills, but she added something she didn't have before--some mental toughness. Stosur used to melt away at tough moments, especially when she was leading, but we haven't seen that from her lately.
She made some strong comebacks in this match, which she won, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2. Williams saved some match points, but then lost the match on a double fault. Williams also had problems with her second serve, which is not characteristic of her.
Elena Dementieva also advanced to the Bank of the West semifinals today when she defeated Daniela Hantuchova 6-2, 6-4. Joining her was Venus Williams, who defeated Maria Sharapova 6-2, 6-2. Managing long rallies has never been Sharapova's greatest strength, and it was a decided weakness tonight against an aggressive and hard-hitting Williams.
Williams and Dementieva will compete against one another in the semifinals, as will Stosur and Marion Bartoli.