ROME -- Serena Williams hasn't played the French Open in
three years and hardly seems ready for this month's clay-court
She made an array of mistakes Friday in her final match before
the French, losing to Patty Schnyder 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (5) in the
Italian Open quarterfinals.
"I'm going to obviously want to work harder and just do some
things differently," Williams said. "Where I am today, in Paris
I'll probably be even better."
In the semifinals, Schnyder will face third-seeded Jelena
Jankovic, who routed Elena Dementieva 6-2, 6-1. Second-seeded
Svetlana Kuznetsova beat sixth-seeded Dinara Safina 6-1, 6-3 in an
all-Russian match and will next play ninth-seeded Daniela
Hantuchova, who beat unseeded Anabel Medina Garrigues 7-6 (8), 7-5.
This was only Williams' third loss this season. She began 2007
by winning the Australian Open for her first major title in two
"I just didn't make the shots I was supposed to make," said
Williams, who was seeded eighth. "I probably made 50 unforced
errors, which is pretty good to get to 7-6 in the third."
Williams captured her first two matches in Rome in straight sets
and won only three fewer points than Schnyder.
"It's good to be here on the red clay and get some good matches
and a lot of long points under your belt," Williams said.
Last month, Williams retired from a match in Charleston, S.C.,
because of a with a groin muscle problem and pulled out of a Fed
Cup match because of an inflamed right knee. She missed the last
two French Opens with knee and ankle injuries.
"Actually, not winning today is going to work well for me,"
she said. "I'm going to get even more fit."
Williams does not plan to play again before Roland Garros, which
begins May 27.
"I think the best thing for me now is practice," she said. "I
feel like I'll really enjoy myself there."
Schnyder, seeded 14th and runner-up in Rome two years ago, beat
Williams in their only previous match on clay. Williams won the
other six meetings
"I have more time to think and I think it's her weakest
surface," Schnyder said. "I'm extremely happy that I could do it
again this year because she's the champion to beat this year."
Williams was off on her backhand and committed double-faults in
the first set. Schnyder, a Swiss left-hander with a crafty game,
simply kept the ball in play.
"I don't have the big muscles, the height, and so I need to get
something special to my game and that's what I work on," Schnyder
said. "I can play all the spins, the slice and kick and the fast
Schnyder took a 2-0 lead in the second set before Williams
reeled off six straight games to force a third set. Neither player
dropped serve in the final set, and Schnyder jumped ahead 5-2 in
the tiebreaker. Williams crawled back to 5-5, then netted a
forehand on the next point. Schnyder hit a winner on an approach
shot on her first match point.
Schnyder reached the German Open quarterfinals last week and
will be playing in her first semifinal of the year.
"This win is definitely a breakthrough for me," she said.