Birmingham, Jun 11: Ana Ivanovic reached her first semifinal since October by beating Mirjana Lucic 6-3, 6-4 at the Aegon Classic on Friday.
A former top-ranked player, Ivanovic dropped only three points on her service games in the first set, and struck the ball so effectively that few rallies lasted more than four shots.
The Serb withdrew from the doubles competition to minimize the chances of a recurrence of her recent wrist problems.
"It's work in progress," Ivanovic said. "I had a few disappointing losses on clay, but I am just enjoying competing again on grass.
"It brings a lot of nice memories for me," the former Wimbledon semifinalist added. "Since the first match I have felt good about myself, and my game. I am just trying to enjoy it while it lasts."
Lucic, who was playing in her second quarterfinal in three tournaments on the WTA Tour, also had reason to feel good about her week, despite the defeat.
The American-based Croatian played some fierce drives, sometimes forcing Ivanovic on to the back foot.
However she lost her serving rhythm in the eighth game, delivering four double faults, and effectively losing the set.
Lucic also dropped serve at the start of the second set, but just when it seemed Ivanovic was taking control, she too faltered and lost a game on a double fault.
Both women struggled with their service games throughout the second set but Ivanovic had the telling break to take a 5-4 lead, allowing the Serb to serve for the match.
In the semifinal, Ivanovic will play Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia who earlier ended the run of American Alison Riske.
Last year Riske came through the qualifying competition, won six matches and was awarded a Wimbledon wild card. This time around the 105th-ranked American celebrated a direct entry into the grass-court Grand Slam by upsetting Aravane Rezai, the eighth-seeded French player, in the third round here.
Against Hantuchova, Riske played well, but missed her chance in the second set of a 6-2, 6-4 defeat.
The American led 4-3 and had Hantuchova at break point down in the next game. But after returning serve she missed a chance to convert the opportunity, hitting a backhand long.
Then, instead of serving to level the match at a set-all she found herself serving to save it, ending the contest with a double fault.
The other semifinal will be between Peng Shuai, who has just become only the third Chinese player to reach the top 20, and Sabine Lisicki, a 21-year-old German who is trying to lift herself back to within sight of the top 20 again after missing five months of last year's tour and falling beyond the top 150.
The third-seeded Peng was made to fight hard by the unseeded Marina Erakovic, losing a 3-0 final set lead before prevailing 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.
And Lisicki suggested her rehabilitation is accelerating, winning the points that mattered most in a 7-6 (1), 6-4 success against Magdalena Rybarikova, the Slovakian who won the title here two years ago. AP