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Williams exploits power

Venus Williams used a go-for-broke mentality to dismiss Anna Kournikova 6-4, 7-5 in the semi-finals of the Palo Alto Classic on Saturday.

Venus Williams used a go-for-broke mentality to dismiss Anna Kournikova 6-4, 7-5 in the semi-finals of the Palo Alto Classic on Saturday.

"I was 50 per cent sharper than I was yesterday." said Williams, referring to her three-set win over Amy Frazier in the quarter-finals. "Yesterday, I couldn't do anything right. Today, I did a lot more things right."

In subduing Kournikova, Williams hit 38 winners in the 72-minute contest, compared to 10 by the Russian teenager.

Williams also took advantage of Kournikova's powderpuff second serve, frequently powering returns towards the Russian's mid-section.

"She tried to kill it, just like I do with other players' serves." said Kournikova, who once again had her hopes of a first WTA Tour title dashed.

Williams got off to a roaring start, immediately breaking Kournikova and then breaking her again for a 4-1 lead.

A series of loose games by the second seed allowed Kournikova back into the set. But Williams converted her first set point, twisting a service winner into Kournikova's body that the Russian could not handle.

Kournikova dug herself into a hole at the start of the second set, when she committed four unforced forehand errors in the opening game to drop serve.

Williams, who appeared to treat the match like a practice session, went for broke on her second serve in the following game and double-faulted three times to give the ninth seed a service break.

"I'm going for my second serve and by the time the US Open comes around, it should be pretty devastating," Williams said of her strategy.

Williams dropped her serve again in the sixth game as the Russian levelled the set at 3-3. But Kournikova, now without a title in 75 professional tournaments, failed to take advantage of the openings afforded her by Williams.

The athletic 20-year-old American slammed home a forehand volley winner to break for a 6-5 lead and served out the match, ending it on a service winner.

"I played pretty well but she didn't give me any rhythm." said Kournikova. "Everything with her was either a winner, an ace, or into the stands. We were both hitting hard, probably too hard, and not with enough control."

Still, the Russian found some consolation in defeat.

"I'm really happy with the way I played this week," she said. "It was probably my best tennis of the year."

In yesterday's final, Williams was due to meet Lindsay Davenport, whom she beat in the Wimbledon singles final, after beating Monica Seles in her semi-final, 7-5, 6-2.

Davenport had 11 aces in her victory over Seles. "It was a tough loss at Wimbledon, but I've let it go," said Davenport.