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Williams “pulled a Serena” to win

Story and photos by J. Justin Boggs

MASON – For WTA Tour No. 1 ranked Serena Williams to beat No. 6 Ana Ivanovic, Williams had to “pull a Serena” en route to her 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 win Friday at the Western and Southern Open quarterfinals.

Williams improved to 9-1 against Ivanovic all time. Williams defeated Ivanovic last year in the finals of the Open. The title was Williams’ first.

After her match Friday, Williams told the courtside announcer that she had to, “Pull a Serena” in her win. When asked what the phrase means, she said, “It’s like when you’re down and maybe down a break in a set and a set and you pull a Serena is when you come back and win.”

Williams will face No. 14 seed Elina Svitolina during Saturday’s semifinal that begins at 7 p.m. on center court.

After losing the first set, Williams took a 3-0 lead in the second set. Ivanovic responded by winning four straight games, twice breaking Williams’ serve, to take a 4-3 lead. But Williams answered by taking the final three games of the set to knot the match at a set apiece.

“I got it to 4-3, but I felt like she really got more confidence,” Ivanovic said. “I felt like I couldn’t keep up at that level (in the third set) and that made a difference at the end.”

After a hard fought match where Ivanovic had the momentum for long stretches, Williams replied Ivanovic’s early third-set break by winning her final six consecutive games.

“I just was a little lethargic in the first set,” Williams said. “But I think Ana played really well. She was hitting winners on pretty much all my second serves.”

Even when leading, Ivanovic knew she had to keep her foot on the gas pedal.

“Against top players in the world, it is not over until you shake the hands,” Ivanovic said. “You have to fight for every point, especially against Serena. Every time she was down with her back against the wall, she hit shots.”

The match was a tougher battle for Williams than yesterday’s round of 16 contest. Williams easily defeated Karin Knapp 6-0, 6-2 yesterday.

Meanwhile, Ivanovic said she was starting to feel tired in the third set after going the distance back-to-back days. Yesterday, Ivanovic rallied from down a set to Sloane Stephens.

“I was really happy with how I pulled out after that match,” Ivanovic said. “It was still a two-hour match and I felt fine today and very fresh. I don’t think that was a factor today.”

Ivanovic left Cincinnati still looking for her first title in 2015. Meanwhile, Williams is looking to avenge her semifinal loss at last week’s Rogers Cup to Belinda Bencic.

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