Sydney:Top-seeded Serena Williams lost 6-3, 6-1 amid a flurry of errors against Olympic gold medalist Elena Dementieva in the Sydney International semifinals on Thursday.
No. 2-ranked Williams, who saved three match points in her three-set quarterfinal win over Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark late Wednesday, will head to Melbourne for next week's Australian Open.
"I gave it away more than anything," Williams said. "I made a lot of errors and made her look like a champ, really. I just pretty much gave her the match."
The nine-time Grand Slam singles winner remained optimistic about her chances at the season's first major, saying she is feeling fit and healthy.
"It was good to have a few matches under my belt getting ready for Melbourne," she said. "I feel like I'm going play a lot better than what I did this week."
Dementieva will now take on fellow Russian and No. 3-ranked Dinara Safina for the Sydney title, a rematch of the Beijing Olympics final.
Second-seeded Safina beat Japan's Ai Sugiyama 6-4, 7-6 (3) but said she still had room for improvement.
Safina won the earlier semifinal and said she was prepared for anyone in the final.
"It's going to be a good challenge, especially before the Grand Slam, to play somebody who's in the best shape," she said. "You cannot really play tactically with them. You just have to go out there and hit the ball."
Players have struggled with the heat in Sydney this week, and Thursday afternoon temperatures soared above 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius).
But loud thunder cracked above during the the second set of the women's semifinal. The heavy rain that followed delayed the start of play in the quarterfinals match between Australian Lleyton Hewitt and fourth-seeded David Nalbandian of Argentina.
In the evening session, top-seeded Novak Djokovic of Serbia will play Mario Ancic of Croatia, followed by third-seeded Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Jarkko Nieminen of Finland.