Verdasco out, Venus barely survives in Mexico

Updated: February 26, 2010, 11:30 PM ET
Associated Press

ACAPULCO, Mexico -- Top-seeded Venus Williams reached the final of the Mexican Open, beating Romanian Edina Gallovits 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 on Friday.

Williams will face eighth-seeded Polona Hercog of Slovenia in the final. The defending champion is coming off a victory Sunday in Dubai, her 42nd WTA victory -- the most by any active player.

Hercog beat Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro 6-3, 7-5 to reach her first WTA final.

Asked if she knew much about Hercog's game, Williams replied: "I've actually never seen her play. I know only her name."

That would suggest a mismatch, but it's unlikely. Clay is Williams' weakest surface and in her last two victories, she has been pushed to three sets by relatively unknown players.

"Everybody here against me, they seem to bring their best," Williams said.

Gallovits, ranked only 164 to Williams' No. 5, made few mistakes early, but seemed to lose her concentration in the final set when Williams began to dominate and hit the corners with her serves and groundstrokes.

I'm definitely getting much better, adjusting to the surface," Williams said. "So we'll see. I'm looking to peak tomorrow. Tomorrow is the time."

Fourth-seeded Juan Carlos Ferrero reached the men's final when Juan Monaco retired with a rib injury after losing the first set 7-5. Ferrero, seeking his third straight tour title, will face either No. 3 David Ferrer or No. 2 Fernando Gonzalez.

The 19-year-old Hercog, who also was playing in her first tour semifinal, hammered the ball into the stands after the match to celebrate.

"With every match I was playing better and today I felt really comfortable in the warmup," Hercog said. "So I went on the court really confident.

"I had to be more aggressive than she was, and this really worked out for me. I'm really happy with the performance and to play my first WTA final."

Monaco was leading the opening set 5-4 when he took an injury timeout to treat an injury to the left side of his ribcage. He returned to the court and lost the next three games, handing the set to Spain's Ferrero 7-5, and then retired.

Ferrero has won the past two ATP events on the Latin American swing -- in Argentina and Brazil -- and is seeking his 15th ATP title.

"The streak I am on is really unexpected," Ferrero said. "The way tennis is right now it's very difficult to put together this kind of streak. I'm happy with the wins I am having."

Monaco said he felt the pain when he was leading 3-1 and it got worse, forcing him to seek treatment.

He described it as a rib injury and said it was likely to keep him out of Argentina's Davis Cup match at Sweden beginning March 3. He didn't know what caused it, and he said he'd never had a similar problem.

Argentina is already without injured David Nalbandian and Juan Martin del Potro.

"I was playing very well and had a good chance to win the match," Monaco said. "It's a shock. The impact is tough for me. Surely I'll miss the Davis Cup."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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