End of the Roman road for Serena

Last updated at 10:13 19 May 2007


Former world number one Serena Williams slid out of the Italian Open following a 6-3 2-6 7-6

defeat by Patty Schnyder in the quarter-finals on Friday.

Playing her first tournament since a groin strain forced her to pull out of the Family Circle Cup in Charleston last month,

Williams struggled to find her rhythm against the 14th seed and paid the price for an error-strewn performance.

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Serena Williams

"I'm just really surprised that I won. In the first set she was missing a lot, then in the second my game went wrong," said Schnyder.

"The third set was just really tough, very close. I tried to

mix it up, but she's such a champion that you have to expect her

to hit a lot of winners. I'm really happy and lucky to be

through to the next round."

Schnyder's reward will be a semi-final against third seed

Jelena Jankovic, who produced an impressive display of baseline

hitting to sweep past Elena Dementieva 6-2 6-1.

Williams, the Australian Open champion, was left to reflect

on a wayward performance.

"I just didn't make the shots that I should have. I probably

hit about 50 unforced errors, which is pretty good to get to 7-6

in the third (set)," she said.

Asked whether she still felt confident of a good run at

Roland Garros later this month, the American replied:

"Absolutely. It's good to get some hard matches and long points

under my belt.

"I think not winning today is going to work well for me

because it will give me time to get even fitter. As soon as I

start to believe in myself I'm going to be a lot better."

Schnyder had lost six of her previous seven matches against

Williams, though her one victory had come on clay, at Charleston

in 2002.

Williams started badly, misfiring her shots into the net and

tramlines to drop serve in the fourth and sixth games. She lost

the first set in just 28 minutes.

Three more forehand errors and a double fault gave Schnyder

another break at the start of the second.

From 2-0 down, however, Williams found her rhythm to reel

off the next six games level at one set apiece as mistakes crept

into Schnyder's game.

In a tight third set, Schnyder created break points in the

first and fifth games, but Williams rallied to save them and

force a tiebreak.

Williams started the tiebreak badly, mishitting a backhand

into the tramlines and then netting a backhand before fighting

back to level at 5-5.

A netted forehand, however, gave Schnyder match point, which

she converted by whipping a crosscourt winner into the back

corner.

Jankovic's win over former French Open finalist Dementieva

confirmed her impressive recent form on clay.

The 22-year-old Serb, who has reached at least the

quarter-finals at each of her last four claycourt events,

dragged the 10th seeded Russian around the court with heavy,

angled groundstrokes.

"I used to think that I didn't like clay. I wasn't used to

it and I didn't know how to slide," said Jankovic, who triumphed

in Charleston last month.

"Then I worked with a Spanish coach, I learned how to slide

and I got a lot of confidence, especially after Charleston. I'm

starting to like it out there".

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