Wozniacki blazes path into semi-finals

Caroline Wozniacki hits a return to Flavia Pennetta at the Rogers Cup in Montreal on August 19,...

Caroline Wozniacki hits a return to Flavia Pennetta at the Rogers Cup in Montreal on August 19, 2010. (SHAUN BEST/Reuters)

BRIAN DALY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:13 PM ET

MONTREAL — The final four is set at the $2 million Rogers Cup, and there might be a clear path towards a championship for Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki.

The Williams sisters both pulled out, the other top-five seeds have all been knocked off and Wozniacki is the top remaining seed and at the top of her game.

The 20-year-old turned in a near-perfect performance Friday evening to vault herself into the semi-finals for the first time in her career.

She routed Italian Francesca Schiavone in straight sets, 6-3 and 6-2. It was a measure of revenge for the world No. 2.

"Last time I played Francesca I lost at the French Open," said Wozniacki, who will play Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova in Saturday's semifinal.

"I'm real pleased about today and hopefully (Saturday) can be another great day."

Wozniacki's serve was particularly strong. The Dane rocketed seven aces past Schiavone and put 81% of her first serves into play.

Wozniacki has only lost two sets in her four matches in Montreal. She and her semi-final opponent, Kuznetsova, have split their four career head-to-head matches.

Kuznetsova, the No. 11 seed, was the first player through to the semis after trouncing China's Jie Zheng 6-3, 6-1.

Later in the evening, defending U.S. Open champion Kim Clijsters couldn't shake off a thigh injury and fell 6-3, 2-6, 3-6 to Russian Vera Zvonareva.

Clijsters, seeded fifth in Montreal, seemed to be cruising toward victory after the first set. But the 27-year-old Belgian dropped the second set and was noticeably slow of foot by the end, leaving centre court for an injury timeout.

She began the third set with her left thigh tightly wrapped and couldn't keep up with the 25-year-old Zvonareva.

Limited mobility allowed her to score on only five of 19 first return chances in the final set. Zvonareva, the No. 8 seed, broke Clijsters to start the third set and ran out to a 5-0 lead before the Belgian mounted her last stand.

She took the next two games before succumbing to Zvonareva, who improved to 2-5 in head-to-head matches against Clijsters.

The Russian, ranked 11th in the world, moves on to face Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, who beat Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli 6-2, 7-6 after Bartoli blew a 6-2 lead in the decisive tiebreaker.

Zvonareva is 4-2 in career matches versus Azarenka, though the Belarussian has won the last two encounters including this year in Dubai.

Zvonareva might be on an even hotter streak than Wozniacki in this tournament. She has only dropped one set in her four matches. She was a semi-finalist at the Rogers Cup in 2004 and likes her chances this time around.

"I am much more experienced now and I am a totally different player than in 2004," she said, adding that her best match is yet to come.

"I'm still lacking consistency a little bit in my game. I think I still was not able to play my best tennis from the first point to the last point."

Clijsters says her hip had tightened up over the previous two days and became uncomfortable during the second set Friday but that she never considered quitting.

"I don't like to give up," said Clijsters, who will have an MRI on her leg in the next few days.

"I was still able to hit the ball. I'm not blaming my injury at all. I lost to (Zvonareva) at Wimbledon where I was feeling totally fine."

Clijsters says the injury doesn't appear to be serious and she expects to be in form for the U.S. Open, which gets under way at the end of the month.

NOTES: One half of the Rogers Cup doubles semifinal bracket was filled on Friday. Gisela Dulko of Argentina and Italian Flavia Pennetta will face Monica Niculescu of Romania, who is teamed up with Shahar Peer of Israel.

- - -

The Canadian U16 boys and girls singles finals were held at Uniprix Stadium to kick off Friday's action. Samuel Monette of Repentigny, Que., defeated Hugo Di Feo of Montreal 3-6, 7-6, 6-4. Monette also paired up with Toronto's Roman Trkulja to take the boys' doubles title.

In the girls' singles final, 13-year-old Francoise Abanda of Montreal defeated Evangeline Repic of Oakville, Ont., 6-2, 6-1.


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