Those of us who were looking forward to another Jelena Jankovic-Venus Williams match this weekend are out of luck. Williams may still go to the Madrid final, but her Serbian rival is out of competition. Aravane Rezai defeated Jankovic 7-5, 6-4 in a sometimes-thrilling match that showcased Rezai's relentlessly big ball-striking. In two sets, the Frenchwoman hit 38 winners, which--on red clay--is quite a number.
The second half of the first set was as wild as it gets. Jankovic saved two set points, one with a netcord ball. She broke Rezai and saved three more set points, then went down 0-30, but held. At 5-all, it became very tense. There were 11 deuces, with Rezai finally converting on the seventh break point. Rezai then took the first set 7-5, on her sixth set point.
There was an exchange of breaks early in the second set, then Rezai broke again. When Jankovic held at love for 3-4, a third set appeared to be in the making. But Rezai never let up, overcoming the 7th seed 6-4, and advancing to the semifinals.
Earlier in the day, Shahar Peer knocked out 13th seed Li Na, who hit 43 winners, but made 78 unforced errors. Peer took the match at 6-4, 3-6, 6-4. Both players suffered with nerves, and Li fans got to see more of what makes the Chinese number 1 so inconistent.
A third unseeded player showed the exit to 16th seed Nadia Petrova. Lucie Safarova, who is having a wonderful clay court season, defeated Petrova 6-1, 1-6, 6-4. Petrova hit nine aces.
The only seeded player who won her quarterfinal match was 4th seed Venus Williams, who defeated 8th seed Sam Stosur 6-3, 6-3. Williams served really well, hitting eight aces and producing serving stat percentages of 68 and 55.
Williams, now the favorite to win the title, will play Peer in the semifinals. The more interesting semifinal match, in my opinion, will be the one between Rezai and Safarova.
In doubles, the current hot team--Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta--defeated last season's hot team (and number 2 seeds) Nuria Llagostera Vives and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez 6-2, 6-4 in the semifinals. The number 8 seeds will play Serena and Venus Williams in the final. The top-seeded Williams sisters defeated Shahar Peer and Francesca Schiavone 7-5, 6-2.