Serena surges into semis as Pennetta retires hurt
Date published :
18 May 2012 - 18:16:54
Serena Williams solidified her return to the top-five ranking on Friday as the American ninth seed advanced to the semi-finals of the Rome Masters when opponent Flavia Pennetta withdrew with a right wrist injury.
The Italian and her fans at the Foro Italico had been hoping for an upset.
Instead, Williams won her 17th consecutive match on clay as the former number one continues to power back into the WTA elite.
"No-one wants to win like that, but I'm happy to get half a day off," said Williams. "I've been playing a lot of days in a row. I even practised on Sunday.
"It's a shame it had to end because I was really getting into the match."
The American said that her form going into the French Open, which starts a week on Sunday, is good.
"I'm feeling better on clay than I did at the US Open (where she lost in the final to Samantha Stosur). I have a better ranking and my fitness is better.
"I just feel better this time around. I feel I can play on any surface and that's the right attitude for me. I'm enjoying my tennis. This is where I belong and what I do best."
Williams needs two more wins on the red Rome clay to notch a third straight WTA title on the surface, after winning Charleston last month and claiming the honours in Madrid last weekend.
Five of the 30-year-old's 41 career titles were won on clay, and she previously triumphed in Rome a decade ago.
Pennetta took a lengthy medical treatment time-out when trailing 3-0 in the first set and looked clearly out of sorts.
After getting her wrist taped, the last Italian woman in the field tried one more game before giving up.
Pennetta, ranked 21st in the world and a clay finalist in February in Acapulco, was playing in her third quarter-final of 2012.
She has now lost 40 matches against top-10 players, while winning 19.