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Cruise control --Serena def. Dokic article

Cruise control
Williams uses power, finesse to dispose of outmatched Dokic
By RICK NELSON
April 12 2003
The Post and Courier
Serena Williams hits a backhand return during her quarterfinal match against Jelena Dokic of Yugoslavia on Friday, April 11, 2003, at the Family Circle Cup in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain)

The shot looked like a clear winner, down the line and out of Serena Williams' reach.

But just before the ball could hit the stadium court's green clay, Williams plucked it out of the air and sent it past Jelena Dokic for her own winner.

It was that kind of night for Dokic, whose good shots were topped by even better efforts from the world's No. 1 player.

Williams put on a dizzying display of power tennis with a touch of finesse thrown in for good measure Friday in a 6-2, 6-2 win in the quarterfinals of the Family Circle Cup.

Williams, who has won all 20 of her matches this year, faces third-seeded and fifth-ranked Lindsay Davenport in the semifinals today with a trip to the championship on the line. Williams has won nine of their previous 11 meetings, but the two never have played each other on clay.

"Playing Lindsay is going to be tough because she's doing very well now," Williams said. "We always have some really good matches."

Her match Friday was one-sided, lasting just 33 minutes, but it's not like the 11th-ranked Dokic played poorly. Dokic, who turns 20 years old today, was willing to slug it out on the baseline with Williams, was quick enough to get to drop shots and did a decent job of returning serve.

But her own serve, which is supposed to give her an advantage, turned into a liability. Dokic was broken five times, and she won only 42 percent of her first-serve points.

Williams served up eight aces and had 29 winners with just 14 unforced errors. Dokic, under pressure all night from Williams' penetrating ground strokes, had only 14 winners with 20 unforced errors.

Williams set the tone early, breaking Dokic in the first game of the match, but Dokic countered in the next game by breaking serve.

Williams got the message."Maybe I did get off to a slow start because I won the first game fairly easily," she said. "I think I took it for granted that, oh, quick break, quick hold. I think that's a classic case of underestimating my opponent."

Williams didn't make that mistake, or many others, the rest of the match. She broke Dokic in the next game to go up 2-1, and only two games made it to deuce the rest of the first set, which lasted just 14 minutes.

The second set wasn't much better. Williams broke Dokic early, and after taking a 3-2 lead, surrendered just six points the rest of the way. She finished the match with an ace on a 97 mph serve, earning a standing ovation from the 9,237 fans in attendance.

It was a disappointing result for Dokic, who has won five titles in the last two years, was a Wimbledon semifinalist in 2000 and reached a career high No. 4 in the world last fall. She slipped to No. 9 in the rankings over the final three months of last year as she wore out from the grind of playing 29 tournaments, or twice as many as Williams and other top players played.

In November, she hired highly regarded coach Heinz Gunthardt, who worked with Steffi Graf. Gunthardt, a former player, is more disciplined than Dokic's previous coaches.

Dokic's controversial father, Damir, also no longer is a fixture at WTA Tour events, allowing her to concentrate on tennis and nothing else.

However, there was little she could do Friday against Williams, who is nearly unstoppable when she is playing well.

Davenport will get her chance today. She and Williams have not faced off since the semifinals of the 2002 U.S. Open, which Williams won 6-3, 7-5.

"Each round the intensity gets higher," Williams said. "There's more at stake, so I have to make sure I stay focused."

WILLIAMS GIVES SCHOLARSHIP

After her match, William gave a $5,000 grant to College of Charleston sophomore Chakosha Lance.

The Georgetown native competes in the discus, shot put and hammer throw for the Cougars' indoor/outdoor track team.

"It's great, but I was just happy to meet her," Lance said. "I got a real rush from that. She's so nice."
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