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Safina, Venus advance, Jankovic loses at Rome Masters
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Russia's world number one Dinara Safina clawed back to beat Spanish player Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 on Thursday and reached the Rome Masters semifinals, while American Venus Williams eased through Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland 6-1, 6-2.

Two-time defending champion Jelena Jankovic lost to Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-1, 7-6(3).

Safina is seeking her first title since climbing to the top of the rankings last month, but was pressured in the first set by the 48th-ranked Martinez Sanchez, who mixed up her game with a number of drop shots and net winners.

The Russian trailed 3-1 in the second set before turning her game around, winning 11 consecutive games to clinch the set and then the decider.

Safina next plays Williams, who took just a little over an hour to defeat a listless Radwanska.

Kuznetsova, eighth ranked in the world, continued her strong form by ousting Jankovic in straight sets.

The Russian, who won the Stuttgart title last week for her first trophy in almost two years, dictated play with her powerful groundstrokes and hit 27 winners.

She will next play the sixth-seeded Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, who defeated Kaia Kanepi of Estonia 7-6(5), 6-3.

(Xinhua News Agency May 8, 2009)

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