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Williams sisters set up epic final rematch

THE Williams sisters set up a rematch of last year's Wimbledon final.

Serena took the tough route, saving a match point before overcoming Elena Dementieva 6-7 (4), 7-5, 8-6 in a riveting marathon contest yesterday in London. Venus had a surprisingly easy time, dispatching top-seed Dinara Safina 6-1, 6-0 to reach her eighth final.

Safina lost in both the Australian Open and French Open finals this year and is still looking for her first major title.

Serena, a two-time Wimbledon champion, was pushed to the limit by the fourth-seeded Russian but raised her game when she needed it most in one of the most compelling women's matches at the All England Club in years.

Dementieva, who has never won a Grand Slam title, played one of the best matches of her career and nearly eliminated a player who has won 10 majors and combined with Venus to dominate at the All England Club for the past decade.

The 2-hour, 49-minute classic ended when Dementieva sailed a backhand wide. Serena threw her head back, pumped her arms and hopped up and down in celebration.

"Elena played so well, and we gave the crowd a wonderful match," Serena said. "It was really, really tough."

In the 10th game of the final set, Serena faced match point on her serve with Dementieva ahead 5-4. Serena chose to attack, coming forward and hitting a backhand volley that skipped off the net cord and into the open court for a winner.

"I thought ace," Serena said. "It's my serve, if I can just stay calm. I was just trying to think positive."

It was Serena's eighth straight win in a Grand Slam semifinal going back to the 2003 French Open. She is now 14-2 overall in Grand Slam semifinals.

The result sets up a second straight and fourth overall women's final here between the Williams siblings. One Williams or the other has won seven of the past nine championships at the All England Club.

Venus is bidding to become the first woman since Steffi Graf in 1991-93 to win Wimbledon three years in a row and is trying for No. 6 overall. Serena beat Venus in the 2002 and 2003 finals at the All England Club.

There have been seven all-Williams championship matches at majors, with Serena holding a 5-2 lead. Overall, the sisters are tied 10-10. The final is tomorrow.


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