Eastbourne: Australian Samantha Stosur will play an Eastbourne grasscourt semi-final for the second straight year after upsetting top seed Vera Zvonareva 4-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-4 on Thursday at the pre-Wimbledon event.
Stosur looked like going down to Zvonareva before a recovery to win the second-set in a tiebreaker and a 4-0 start in the third.
With the former Roland Garros finalist serving for victory, her game wobbled, with Zvonareva earning a break for 3-5. Stosur steadied to finally clinch it.
Seventh seed Stosur will play Marion Bartoli after the French sixth seed advanced when number three Victoria Azarenka retired hurt for the fourth time since March to hand over a 6-2, 2-0 win to Bartoli, who lost the 2007 Wimbledon final to Venus Williams.
Venus had earlier Thursday fallen to Daniela Hantuchova who was finally triumphing after 10 losses in her career series with Venus.
The Slovak, who had previously won just two sets against the American, secured a gritty 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 quarter-final victory to send Venus out a day after her sister Serena lost to Zvonareva.
With matches ducking moving rainshowers, the women`s semi-finals were set with the Wimbledon start now just four days away.
Hantuchova faces Czech fifth seed Petra Kvitova a winner over Pole Agnieszka Radwanska 1-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7/2).
Williams meanwhile, heads to London satisfied with her comeback week after missing five months with an abdominal injury. She joined her sister Serena - victim of Zvonareva in the second round - in making a re-emergence onto the WTA circuit.
Serena returned after almost a year off court due to two operations on a cut foot last year and surgery in February to remove blood clots from her lungs.
"I played a lot of matches here (three), spent a lot of time on the court," said number 33 Venus, seeded 23rd for Wimbledon.
"It`s not the best luck today, but I feel good about my preparation.”
"I`m definitely happy that I`m going to have a couple of days to rest and prepare for Wimbledon. I thought I played pretty good. More than anything I was able to get a lot of great competition. This has been ideal."
Hantuchova, ranked 25th and losing finalist on grass Monday in Birmingham, laboured for two hours and 23 minutes to down Williams.
"It got really ugly for both of us,it was difficult to play," said the winner. "I started off well before the wind came - then it got very difficult.”
"It was really mentally important to try to stay in the points and not to fight against myself and just try to play every point as it came. It was then about who had the mentality and I came through.”
"I`m feeling really good. My form is good."
The pair played their first match a decade ago and last met in Miami in March, where Williams won after coming back from losing the first set 1-6.
"She got a lot of balls back," said Williams. "I think she had a lot of extra motivation to get a win against me after a long, long time. She played some good tennis most of the time."
Men got caught up, with three interrupted second-round matches completed.
Janko Tipsarevic, the number three seed, beat Mikhail Kukushkin 6-3, 7-6 (7/2), Belgian Olivier Rochus edged Argentine Carlos Berlocq 3-6, 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/3) and Japan`s Kei Nishikori beat German veteran Rainer Schuettler 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.
Andreas Seppi then defeated Rochus 6-2, 6-7 (5/7), 6-3 to book the first of the semi-final spots in the ATP draw.