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Saturday, April 14, 2007
Jankovic to face Safina in Family Circle finals

Associated Press

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Jelena Jankovic advanced to the final of the Family Circle Cup, winning a marathon match Saturday against Venus Williams for her second straight win against the American coming back from a wrist injury.

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Jankovic, who won 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5) also beat Williams last year on the grass at Wimbledon.

She now meets fourth-seeded Dinara Safina, who advanced when fellow Russian Vera Zvonareva, who had a wrist injury, withdrew from the other semifinal.

Jankovic and Williams contested every point for just over 2½ hours on the green clay at Daniel Island. In the end, the only thing that separated them was the last two points of the third-set tiebreaker.

They were tied 5-5 when Williams hit a forehand long, putting Jankovic up by one.

On the next point, Jankovic sent a shot past Williams along the sideline. She started to celebrate, but Williams reacted as though it was out. The umpire checked the spot, determined it was in and Jankovic raised her arms in triumph.

"She kind of like was going to shake my hand and then she was in doubt," Jankovic said. "So I was really lucky on that one to win. It was great."

"I'm just tired. I've had a long week and I did my best," said Williams, who had 13 double faults to only two for her opponent. "I'm just going home."

Both Safina, ranked No. 12 in the world, and Zvonareva, ranked No. 20, said Friday they had nagging wrist injuries. Both retired from their doubles matches Friday so they could concentrate on the singles.

Safina was leading 6-3, 0-1 when Zvonareva, whose wrist had been bothering her all week, retired. Zvonareva said it hurt from the beginning of the match and "it just got really bad to the point I wasn't able to perform."

It was the second match in a row Safina's opponent has retired. Tatiana Golovin of France retired from their Friday evening match at the end of the first set with an injured ankle.

Williams, ranked No. 29, was playing in her fourth tournament of the year after being sidelined earlier with a wrist injury. Williams, like the other semifinalists, won all her earlier Family Circle matches in straight sets.

"The encouraging part is that, if I just clean up my game some, I know I can play a lot better," she said.