LONDON Sam Stosur stormed into the semi-finals of the Eastbourne International tournament by beating top seed Vera Zvonareva and Venus Williams's comeback ended with defeat by Daniela Hantuchova on Thursday.
Australian seventh seed Stosur, who reached the last eight without dropping a set, triumphed 4-6 7-6 6-4 against the Russian who beat Serena Williams on Wednesday to gain a touch of consolation for last year's Wimbledon final defeat by the American.
Zvonareva initially adapted better to conditions made difficult by a blustery wind but Stosur found her rhythm in the second set when she recovered from 4-2 down, hitting with more confidence to reel off three successive games.
She went 6-5 up after the longest game of the tournament, surviving three break points and 10 deuces, and though Zvonareva took it to a tiebreak, the Australian won it well.
Stosur, who had won their last six meetings, flew out of the blocks in the second set, breaking a weary-looking Zvonareva to love in her first two service games to lead 3-0 and 5-1, only for Zvonareva to fight back to 5-4, saving a match point.
However, Stosur served out to love to complete an impressive victory.
"It was a very tough match and the conditions were tough too," Stosur told British Eurosport. "That long game was a huge turnaround for the match, I got a bit of momentum after that."
Stosur will play Marion Bartoli after the Frenchwoman beat Victoria Azarenka after the third-seeded Belarussian was forced to pull out during the second set.
Hantuchova chalked up her first win over Venus Williams in 11 attempts when she came through 6-2 5-7 6-2.
Playing her first tournament following a five-month layoff with an abdominal injury before she begins her bid for a sixth Wimbledon singles title next week, Williams looked impressive in beating Ana Ivanovic in straight sets on Wednesday.
Having beaten Hantuchova in all 10 previous meetings dating back to 2001, she must have been confident of another success in the battle between two unseeded quarter-finalists but was outclassed in the first set.
The American fought back from a break down to take the second as the wind contributed to some wild hitting but Hantuchova, who reached the final of last week's Birmingham grasscourt event, took command again to dominate the decisive set.
"I was hitting the ball well before it got really windy and then it got difficult for both of us and then it was a question of who had the mentality," said Hantuchova.
"This is my favorite time of the year, the grass season, and I'm feeling really good. My form is good."
(Writing by Mitch Phillips, editing by Ed Osmond)