- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 3, 2009

PARIS | It took Victoria Azarenka all of 23 minutes Tuesday to win more games against Dinara Safina than the French Open’s top-seeded woman had lost in her four previous matches combined.

Azarenka dominated Safina for a set. And that was all.

Slowly coming unglued in the first Grand Slam quarterfinal of her career, the ninth-seeded Azarenka let the lead - and her temper - slip away, allowing Safina to charge back for a 1-6, 6-4, 6-2 victory at Roland Garros.

“I had a lot of chances, but she definitely stepped it up,” the 19-year-old Azarenka said.

Azarenka knocked off defending French Open champion Ana Ivanovic in the fourth round, and she appeared on her way to another upset Tuesday.

The Belarussian compiled 10 winners and only one unforced error in the opening set, when she broke Safina’s serve three times. Entering Tuesday, Safina had lost five games at Roland Garros this year, the lowest total through four entire matches at any Grand Slam tournament in 15 years.

But things began to change in the second set.

With Azarenka serving and a point from a 2-1 lead, she double-faulted. Then she double-faulted on the next point, too, before putting a backhand into the net to give Safina the game. The match was 38 minutes old, and it was Azarenka’s first real show of nerves. It wasn’t the last: She wound up with 21 unforced errors over the last two sets.

Borg sends compliments

Bjorn Borg finally got in touch with Robin Soderling to express a little gratitude.

Borg shares the record of four consecutive French Open titles with Rafael Nadal, whose bid for No. 5 in a row came to an end with a loss to Soderling in the fourth round. After that upset, Soderling said he hoped to hear from Borg, a fellow Swede.

And after reaching his first Grand Slam semifinal with a straight-set victory over Nikolay Davydenko on Tuesday, Soderling said he had, indeed, received a text message from Borg.

“He said, ‘Congratulations.’ And ‘Thank you for not letting Nadal break my record,’ ” Soderling said. “I think he will be down here maybe tomorrow.”

Bryans in semis

American twins Bob and Mike Bryan are back in the semifinals at the French Open, the Grand Slam tournament they consider the toughest.

The second-seeded Bryans beat Marc Lopez and Tommy Robredo of Spain 7-6 (1), 4-6, 7-6 (2). The Bryans won the French Open in 2003 and were the runners-up in 2005 and 2006, but they lost in the quarterfinals each of the past two years.

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