- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 6, 2006

1:34 p.m.

PARIS — Once a teen sensation herself, Venus Williams lost today to a 17-year-old upstart at the French Open.

Nicole Vaidisova pulled off her second successive shocker at Roland Garros, beating Williams 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-3 to earn her first Grand Slam semifinal berth.

Williams was the only American, male or female, to reach the second week of the tournament. At 25, the five-time Grand Slam winner was the oldest women’s quarterfinalist, and she again came up short in her 10th try for a Roland Garros title.

“Obviously, I’m disappointed,” Williams said. “I would have loved to have done better.”

Sentimental favorite Martina Hingis also was eliminated, leaving the French Open as the only major event she has yet to win. Two-time runner-up Kim Clijsters won 7-6 (5), 6-1 over Hingis, a five-time Grand Slam champion who played in the tournament for the first time since 2001.

Clijsters’ opponent in the semifinals Thursday will be fellow Belgian Justine Henin-Hardenne, a two-time champion, who beat Anna-Lena Groenefeld 7-5, 6-2.

Top-ranked Roger Federer won his 26th Grand Slam match in a row, beating No. 12-seeded Mario Ancic 6-4, 6-3, 6-4. Federer reached the semifinals in his eighth consecutive major event, two shy of Ivan Lendl’s Open era record.

“To make it to the semis was my first objective in Paris,” Federer said, anticipating a possible showdown Sunday against defending champion Rafael Nadal. “I’m much more relaxed now. There was enormous pressure at the start of the tournament, with everybody speaking about a final against Nadal, but first you have to win the matches before you get there.”

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