Williams advances, defend champ Kvitova ousted
Toronto: World No.1 Serena Williams, who is seeking her eighth title of the year, stormed into the semi-finals at the WTA Rogers Cup with a crushing straight-set win over Magdalena Rybarikova.
The 31-year-old Williams blitzed the world number 42 Slovak 6-1, 6-1 in a quarter-final match that took just one hour on Friday.
"She had nothing to lose," Williams said of Rybarikova. "I knew I had to play really, really good today."
Williams next faces third-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland on Saturday for a spot in the final.
Radwanska powered her way past Sara Errani of Italy 7-6 (7/1), 7-5 in an earlier quarter-final match.
"She is a great player. She has a great feel for the ball," Williams said of facing Radwanska on Saturday.
It was a powerful display of tennis from the top seed Williams, who hammered seven aces and broke Rybarikova a half dozen times.
"I`m definitely happier with the return game today," Williams said. "I could still use some improvement. She served pretty well, but I was pretty happy with the results from today."
Williams is 8-0 since her fourth-round loss at Wimbledon to Sabine Lisicki.
"I just felt like I was too tight, and just put a lot of pressure on myself there," she said of the loss at Wimbledon. "I just needed to relax more than anything, which is what I`m doing."
Unseeded Romanian Sorana Cirstea also sent defending champion Petra Kvitova packing Friday in the quarter-finals.
"It might come as a surprise for many people," said Cirstea of her upset win. "It`s not really a surprise for me, because I know how hard I have been working for the past couple of weeks. It`s nice to see the reward." added Cirstea.
Cirstea rallied for a 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 victory over sixth-seeded Kvitova and advanced to a semi-final clash with China`s Li Na, the woman Kvitova beat in the final last year when the tournament was held in Montreal.
Li battled through a tight first set then coasted to a 7-6 (7/1), 6-2 victory over Dominika Cibulkova to reach the final four.
The fourth seed from China, playing her first tournament since a quarter-final appearance at Wimbledon, needed an hour and 36 minutes to get past unseeded Slovakian Cibulkova, who launched her hardcourt build-up to the US Open with the Stanford title a fortnight ago.
Li admitted she was a bit weary after a tough, three-set win over former world number one Ana Ivanovic on Thursday. She didn`t feel like she was hitting a lot of winners, and was pleased to see in the match statistics that she fired 33 winners.
Getting through the first-set tiebreaker gave her a boost. "After the first I was thinking `OK, one set in the pocket` so I was feeling more confident, of course," she said.
In a match that featured a total of 15 service breaks, Poland`s Radwanska managed to hold in the final game of the contest to secure the victory and avenge a quarter-final loss to the Italian at Roland Garros this year.
After an early exchange of breaks in the third set, Radwanska broke Errani for a 5-4 lead, but dropped her serve in the next game.
She broke Errani again for a 6-5 lead and a chance to serve for the match, and this time made no mistake, taking a 40-15 lead and securing the win after two hours and one minute with a thumping forehand that Errani couldn`t get back.