Venus upset by Czech teen

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Once a teen sensation herself, Venus Williams lost on Tuesday to a 17-year-old upstart at the French Open.

Updated: February 25, 2007 11:34 IST
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Once a teen sensation herself, Venus Williams lost on Tuesday to a 17-year-old upstart at the French Open. Nicole Vaidisova pulled off her second successive shocker at Roland Garros, beating Williams 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-3 to earn her first Grand Slam semifinal berth. Williams was the lone American, male or female, to reach the second week of the tournament. At 25, the five-time Grand Slam winner was the oldest women's quarterfinalist, and she again came up short in her 10th try for a Roland Garros title. Also eliminated was Martina Hingis, meaning the French Open remains the only major event she has yet to win. Two-time runner-up Kim Clijsters won 7-6 (5), 6-1 over Hingis, a five-time Grand Slam champion who was playing in the tournament for the first time since 2001. Clijsters' opponent in the semifinals on Thursday will be two-time champion Justine Henin-Hardenne, who beat Anna-Lena Groenefeld 7-5, 6-2. The pattern of Vaidisova's victory was remarkably similar to her previous match, when she stunned top-ranked Amelie Mauresmo 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-2. Again Vaidisova staged a comeback. When a Williams forehand sailed long on match point - her 70th unforced error - Vaidisova dropped her racket and threw up her arms in glee. The German-born, Florida-based Czech has drawn comparisons to Maria Sharapova, who was 17 when she won Wimbledon in 2004. Vaidisova's semifinal opponent will be Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova, who reached the Roland Garros semifinals for the first time by overcoming an early 5-1 deficit and beating Dinara Safina 7-6 (5), 6-0. Vaidisova said she used a Venus Williams racket as a child and was making her Grand Slam debut at the 2004 US Open when she first saw Williams in person. The teen had the steadier style on Tuesday, pulling ahead to stay at 3-2 in the third set when Williams double-faulted to lose serve. Vaidisova erased a break point to hold in the next game, won a series of brilliant rallies to hold again for 5-3, then broke serve for the sixth time to clinch the win. Williams was seeded 11th and playing only her 14th match this year after being sidelined for three and a half months with arm and elbow injuries, which may have contributed to her erratic play. Vaidisova won despite eight double-faults and 57 unforced errors herself, and from the start she took advantage of Williams' sloppy shots. Williams struggled not only with her groundstrokes but when she came forward, blowing two overheads and netting several easy volleys. She lost four consecutive games early, committing 15 unforced errors as she fell behind 4-1. Then, thanks to a flurry of mistakes by Vaidisova, Williams won 16 of the next 19 points to lead 5-4. Vaidisova settled down and took a 5-2 lead in the tiebreaker, but again Williams rallied. She won the last five points - two with winners, three on Vaidisova errors - to take the set. In the second set, Vaidisova won a 16-point game to break for a 3-1 lead, and won the final five games of the set as the match began to slip away from Williams. Williams fell to 14-10 in Grand Slam quarterfinals. Clijsters, seeded second, took quick leads in both sets and finished with 31 winners to 15 for Hingis. Clijsters can regain the No. 1 ranking from Mauresmo if she reaches the final. The No. 14-seeded Safina, playing in her first Grand Slam quarterfinal, unraveled after blowing the early lead and won only three points in the second set against Kuznetsova. Safina finished with 13 winners and 36 unforced errors. Kuznetsova, seeded eighth, is bidding for her second major title. She won the 2004 US Open. (AP)

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