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Serbian duo, Nadal race into semifinals
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When Ana Ivanovic hits an especially good shot, she celebrates with a combination leg-kick fist-pump, and she's doing it a lot at the French Open.

The No. 2-seeded Ivanovic beat No. 10 Patty Schnyder 6-3, 6-2 yesterday to become the first semifinalist at Roland Garros.

Serbia's Ana Ivanovic returns the ball to Switzerland's Patty Schnyder during their quarter-final match at the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris June 3,2008. Ivanovic won 6-3, 6-2.(Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

"I am really happy the way I'm playing," said Ivanovic, who has yet to lose a set in five matches. "I just want to keep this level."

Fellow Serb Novak Djokovic advanced by beating childhood friend Ernests Gulbis 7-5, 7-6 (3), 7-5. Djokovic reached his fifth consecutive grand slam semifinal, joining Roger Federer, Ivan Lendl and Boris Becker as the only men to accomplish the feat in the Open era.

In a late match, three-time champion Rafael Nadal celebrated his 22nd birthday with a 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 demolition of fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro to also book a place in the semifinals.

The second seed, who extended his unbeaten run at Roland Garros since his debut in 2005 to 26 matches, will face world No. 3 Djokovic for a place in the final.

Nadal bagged the first set in 27 minutes, allowing his 19th-seeded opponent 10 points.

Spain's Nicolas Almagro (L) greets compatriot Rafael Nadal after their quarter-final match at the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris June 3, 2008. Nadal won 6-1, 6-1, 6-1.(Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

Almagro then effectively threw the towel, bowing out when he netted an easy smash on the second match point after one hour and 44 minutes.

Ivanovic's opponent tomorrow will be the winner of the later match between No. 3 Jelena Jankovic and unseeded Carla Suarez Navarro.

The Serb has reached the semifinals at four of the past five grand slam tournaments, starting with her run at Roland Garros a year ago, when she lost to Justine Henin in the final.

She struggled against Schnyder only when trying to close out the victory. With light rain beginning to fall, she hit her second and third double-faults of the match in the final game before smacking a service winner on the third match point.

"I started to rush," she said. "I was happy to calm down and still win the game."

Svetlana Kuznetsova advanced to the quarterfinals for the third year in a row by completing a victory over Victoria Azarenka, 6-2, 6-3. Kuznetsova's next opponent will be Kaia Kanepi, who became the first Estonian to reach the quarterfinals at a grand slam tournament by beating Petra Kvitova 6-3, 3-6, 6-1.

Serbia's Novak Djokovic returns the ball to Latvia's Ernests Gulbis during their quarter-final match at the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris June 3, 2008. Djokovic won 7-5, 7-6 (7/3), 7-5.(Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

Kanepi and Kuznetsova won matches suspended on Monday because of darkness.

The No. 4-seeded Kuznetsova hit 10 aces against the No. 16-seeded Azarenka, a Belarussian who lives in Scottsdale, Arizona. Azarenka was 0-for-7 on break-point chances, all in the first set.

Kuznetsova has lost only 19 games in four rounds, sweeping every set.

"I just feel very comfortable playing here and really focus on myself," said Kuznetsova. "I feel like I matured as the years go by, and I'm just really enjoying myself here."

The big-hitting Russian won the 2004 US Open and was runner-up to Henin at Roland Garros in 2006.

Kanepi, ranked 49th, began the tournament with a lifetime grand slam record of 5-8. She beat two seeded players - No. 6 Anna Chakvetadze and No. 29 Anabel Medina Garrigues - en route to the final eight.

"I have been believing in myself that I can play top players for a long time," said Kanepi, 22. "I was hoping for a breakthrough someday."

Kanepi said her latest victory would be big news in Estonia, and she expected plenty of messages from family and friends.

"My phone is still switched off, because I think there will be a lot," she said with a smile. "I'm waiting for when I'm little relaxed."

(Agencies via Shanghai Daily June 4, 2008)

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