Serena Williams easily dispatched Maria Kirilenko 6-1, 6-4 as she continued to gather momentum on her return from injury by reaching the last four of the Italian Open.
After cruising through the first set and surging to a 4-0 lead in the second, Williams lost three straight games before regaining control on her service games, hitting aces at 123 mph and firing baseline winners at will. She has been out with a left knee injury since winning the Australian Open in January. "I can't believe I'm still in the tournament," she said. "It's weird." Williams won this clay-court warm-up for the French Open in 2002 en route to her only title at Roland Garros.
In the other half of the draw, former No 1 Ana Ivanovic beat Nadia Petrova 6-2, 7-5 to reach her first semifinal since losing to Justine Henin in Brisbane, Australia, in January. With her ranking down to No. 58, Ivanovic recently hired Steffi Graf's old coach, Heinz Gunthardt to improve her game. "We've worked a lot the last few weeks and I feel great out there," she said. Ivanovic's semi-final opponent will be 26th-ranked Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez of Spain, who beat Lucie Safarova 7-6, 6-4.
Organisers say the Madrid Open will be first the tennis tournament to be broadcast for the general public in 3D outside tournament grounds. The men's and women's finals will be shown live in 3D in three cinemas in Madrid, Barcelona and Malaga. The tournament starts today. Tournament organiser Ion Tiriac said the Madrid Open has "chosen to take tennis to another dimension, the third dimension that is seeping into society."