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Kournikova reaches semifinals

SAN DIEGO, Aug. 2 (UPI) -- Venus Williams of the United States and Kim Clijsters of Belgium clashed for the second straight week Friday night and while the match was much closer, the outcome was the same.

The top-seeded Williams recorded 31 winners but overcame 73 unforced errors to edge the fifth-seeded Clijsters, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, in one hour, 51 minutes and reach the semifinals at the Acura Classic.

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Meanwhile, popular Russian Anna Kournikova continued her surprising run, knocking off 12th seed Anna Smashnova of Israel, 6-3, 6-4, to make the final four.

On Saturday, Williams faces No. 3 Lindsay Davenport of the United States, who crushed Japan's Ai Sugiyama, 6-1, 6-1.

Kournikova will meet Jelena Dokic, who pulled off a surprise Friday night by Jennifer Capriati, 2-6, 6-2, 6-4.

Williams, the two-time defending champion, dropped her first set at the La Costa Resort and Spa since the 2000 final.

Clijsters broke Williams' vaunted serve on a disputed call in the 12th game of the second set to level the match.

"The umpire overruled, I don't call the lines," Williams said. "I let them make their own decisions. I don't try to persuade them. If it's in, it's in. If it's out, it's out."

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On her first match point, Williams rocketed a 122 mile-per-hour ace to improve her career record at San Diego to 17-4.

"It was a good last game," she said. "I was hitting a lot of great ones up the `T,' but I don't think there was as much placement. But I finally got a good one."

Clijsters suffered her third defeat in four career meetings with Williams.

Although Kournikova converted just six of 25 break-point chances and committed 80 unforced errors, she battled past the 26-year-old Smashnova.

Kournikova had a dubious start to her quarterfinal. Smashnova broke her serve three times and took the first set in just 29 minutes.

But as the 21-year-old did Thursday against 1995 champion Conchita Martinez, Kournikova finally got into gear in the second set, breaking Smashnova's serve in the ninth game to knot the match.

"I guess I was a step too slow in the beginning again," Kournikova said. "I was pretty tired from yesterday. I knew how I had to play her. I didn't do enough. I wasn't attacking, I wasn't coming to the net as much as the last time I played her."

Playing just her second tournament in nine months due to a knee injury, Davenport never faced a break point on her serve as the 1998 champion improved her all-time record here to 14-3.

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"This is the best match I've played since I've been back the last two weeks," she said. "It's the best I've served. I really felt relaxed on my serve. I felt like I was really hitting my spots well. When I serve well, the rest of my game falls into place."

Capriati, the 1991 and 1992 winner, is 4-0 lifetime against Dokic, defeating her most recently in the quarterfinals of the French Open.

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