Kuznetsova ousts Serena
Paris: Russian seventh seed Svetlana Kuznetsova survived a fightback from America's Serena Williams to book a French Open semi-final date with Australian 30th seed Samantha Stosur here today.
Roger Federer, meanwhile, reached his 20th consecutive Grand Slam semi-final with a 7-6 (8/6), 6-2, 6-4 win over France's Gael Monfils to close in on a first French Open title and a record-equalling 14th major. World No 2 Federer, the tournament favourite after the shock defeat of four-time winner Rafael Nadal, as well as the exits of Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, will face either Juan Martin del Potro or Tommy Robredo for a place in what would be a fourth successive Roland Garros final.
A final victory on Sunday would make the Swiss only the sixth man in history to complete a career Grand Slam and take him level with Pete Sampras's record of 14 majors. Defeat for Monfils ended, for another year, hopes of a first French men's champion at Roland Garros since Yannick Noah in 1983.
Kuznetsova led by a set and 4-1 against world No 2 Williams, the 2002 champion, before the American fought back to force a decider, with the Russian world No 7 eventually prevailing 7-6 (7/3), 5-7, 7-5. Stosur eased through her quarter-final against unseeded Romanian Sorana Cirstea, winning 6-1, 6-3 to become the first Australian woman in the last four since Nicole Provis in 1988. Thursday's other semi-final pits top-seeded Russian Dinara Safina against Slovakian 20th seed Dominika Cibulkova, the conqueror of Maria Sharapova.
Kuznetsova, a runner-up here in 2006, broke twice to open up a 3-0 first-set lead against Williams, the double-break secured with a superb curving backhand winner down the line, before conceding a break with a double-fault in her next service game. Williams broke again when Kuznetsova was serving for the set at 5-4, but after surviving a set point at 5-6 down on her own serve the 23-year-old Russian played superbly to prevail in the subsequent tie-break.
The American found herself 4-1 down after an early break in the second set and Kuznetsova served for the match at 5-3 up, only for Williams to dig deep for a double-break before levelling the match with an ace. Williams saw off two match points at 4-5 down in a tense decider before finally capitulating with a tired backhand to hand Kuznetsova only her second victory over the 10-time major-winner in seven attempts after 2hr 46min on court.
Stosur, who is bidding to become the first Australian winner at Roland Garros since Margaret Smith-Court in 1973, was rarely troubled in a one-sided encounter against world number 41 Cirstea. The 19-year-old Cirstea had beaten three seeds, including Serbian world No 5 Jelena Jankovic.