Venus loses in Hong Kong semis
HONG KONG (AP):
Venus Williams saw her chance of qualifying for the season-ending WTA Finals slip away yesterday after losing in straight sets to Jelena Jankovic of Serbia in the semi-finals of the Hong Kong Open.
Seven-time Grand Slam champion Williams, seeded third, was defeated 6-4, 7-5 in a tense encounter which lasted two hours and four minutes in front of a packed centre court at Victoria Park.
"It is disappointing. I had an off day, while she probably played one of her best matches this year," Williams said.
The 35-year-old Williams needed to reach the final today to boost her chances of playing in the lucrative WTA Finals, starting October 25 in Singapore. The last time Williams played in the WTA Finals - where only the world's top eight-ranked singles players qualify - was in 2009 in Doha.
Fourth-seeded Jankovic was helped by a wayward opponent whose usually strong serve deserted her. Williams also failed to take her chances, only converting two of 16 break points in the match.
Last-minute wild card entry Jankovic will now meet Germany's Angelique Kerber in the final. Kerber moved within one win of cementing her place in the WTA Finals after beating Samantha Stosur of Australia 6-2, 6-2. Second-seeded Kerber is presently ranked fifth in the Road to Singapore leaderboard and can book her ticket if she adds the Hong Kong Open title to her wins in Charleston, Stuttgart, Birmingham and Stanford.
Meanwhile, Novak Djokovic has made winning so routine this year that even when he dominates one of his biggest rivals, he takes it in stride. The top-ranked Serb broke Andy Murray five times en route to a 6-1, 6-3 win in the semi-finals of the Shanghai Masters yesterday, one of his most lopsided victories ever over the two-time major winner.
Afterward, Djokovic said he would only allow himself to enjoy the victory for a moment before turning his attention to today's final against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, a 6-4, 0-6, 7-5 winner over Rafael Nadal in the other semi-final.