Ana Ivanovic into Birmingham semifinals

BIRMINGHAM, England -- Ana Ivanovic reached her first semifinal since October by beating Mirjana Lucic 6-3, 6-4 at the Aegon Classic on Friday.

The former top-ranked Ivanovic dropped only three points on her service games in the first set and struck the ball so effectively that few rallies lasted more than four shots.

"It's work in progress," said Ivanovic, who withdrew from the doubles competition to minimize the chances of a recurrence of her recent wrist problems. "I had a few disappointing losses on clay, but I am just enjoying competing again on grass.

"It brings a lot of nice memories for me," the former Wimbledon semifinalist added. "Since the first match I have felt good about myself and my game. I am just trying to enjoy it."

Lucic, who was playing in her second quarterfinal in three tournaments on the WTA Tour, also had reason to feel good about her week. The American-based Croatian played some fierce drives, sometimes forcing Ivanovic on to the back foot.

However, she lost her serving rhythm in the eighth game by delivering four double-faults, effectively losing the set. Lucic also dropped serve at the start of the second set, but just when it seemed Ivanovic was taking control, she too faltered and lost a game on a double-fault.

Both women struggled with their service games throughout the second set but Ivanovic had the telling break to take a 5-4 lead, allowing the Serb to serve for the match.

In the semifinal, Ivanovic will play Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia, who earlier ended the run of American Alison Riske 6-2, 6-4.

Last year, Riske came through the qualifying competition, won six matches and was awarded a Wimbledon wild card. This time the 105th-ranked American earned a spot in the grass-court Grand Slam by upsetting Aravane Rezai, the eighth-seeded French player, in the third round.

Riske led 4-3 and had Hantuchova at break point down in the next game Friday, but after returning serve she missed a chance to convert the opportunity, hitting a backhand long.

Then, instead of serving to level the match at a set all, she found herself serving to save it, ending the contest with a double-fault.

The other semifinal will be between Peng Shuai, only the third Chinese player to reach the top 20, and Sabine Lisicki, a 21-year-old German who is trying to regain her form after missing five months of last year's tour and falling beyond the top 150.

The third-seeded Peng was made to fight hard by unseeded Marina Erakovic, losing a 3-0 final set lead before prevailing 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.

Lisicki won the points that mattered most in her match, a 7-6 (1), 6-4 win over Magdalena Rybarikova, the Slovakian who won the Birmingham title two years ago.