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Jankovic into semis; rest of Day 9 matches postponed

NEW YORK -- Jelena Jankovic lost so many matches in a row this year, she lost count. But she'd taken enough stats classes in college to figure this: It was probably time to quit tennis and go back to school in Belgrade.

On Tuesday, Jankovic graduated -- to her first Grand Slam semifinal, that is -- by taking away No. 4 Elena Dementieva's serve and coasting 6-2, 6-1 at the U.S. Open.

"I cannot believe that I won in two sets," Jankovic said. "What was the score? I don't even know the total score."

Shortly after she finished, rain began and play was called off for the day. At that point, seventh-seeded Nikolay Davydenko led No. 17 Andy Murray 6-1, 5-7, 6-3 and 2000 U.S. Open champion Marat Safin led Tommy Haas 2-1.

If the weather clears up Wednesday -- it was supposed to -- every player except Jankovic was to be in action.

Steady drizzle did not dampen Jankovic's day. The 19th-seeded Serbian became the first player to reach this year's semifinals at Flushing Meadows and will face the winner of the match between Lindsay Davenport and Justine Henin-Hardenne.

Having already dismissed No. 9 Nicole Vaidisova and No. 6 and 2004 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, the 21-year-old Jankovic broke Dementieva in all seven of the Russian's service games, overcame three breaks of her own serve and four break chances in the final game.

Dementieva had more winners than Jankovic, 16-6, but also had five double faults and no aces in the 62-minute match. The Russian also had 39 unforced errors compared to 16 for Jankovic, who had never reached a Grand Slam quarterfinal before this week.

Jankovic had lost in three sets to Dementieva in the Los Angeles final earlier this summer.

"I mean, it's amazing," Jankovic said of her rout. "Especially [after how] we played in L.A. She beat me 6-4 in the third. We played for like two hours and a half. Was such a tough match. Today I expected as well to have a tough, tough battle.

"But I don't know what happened. I was just playing quite solid, playing aggressively, didn't allow her to play her game. I was also returning well," she said.

Earlier this year, Jankovic wasn't winning anything. She lost in the second round of the Australian Open, then dropped her opening match at the next nine events -- 10 consecutive defeats in all.

"Ten losses in a row, nine losses -- how many, I don't know," she said. "It was terrible. I don't know what was wrong with me. I didn't have the will to practice, didn't want to play."

"It was something that I never felt before, and I almost quit playing tennis," Jankovic said. "I just wanted to go and study."

Then she got a visit from her mom at a tournament in Rome. Immediately, Jankovic began to play better.

"She would always give me support and tell me I can do it, I have the potential," she said. "Since then, I won like 30-something matches out of 40. It's been amazing."

Now, those courses in statistics, economics and politics can wait.

"My ambition is to finish university," she said. "I don't want to be a typical tennis player who knows how to hit the forehand and a backhand, that's all. I think this career is quite short. I think there is life after tennis, as well, and I need to look after my future."

At 24, Dementieva was mulling her future, too.

"It is disappointing. I'm getting older, and I haven't won a Grand Slam, so that's really what I'm thinking about all the time," the 2004 Open runner-up said. "I feel like I was in good shape here. That's why it's sad."

Dementieva let out a shriek midway through the second set when her shot hit the net tape, popped up and landed on her side. The sound echoed through Arthur Ashe Stadium, and she quietly exited a few games later.

"She didn't give me any chances," Dementieva said. "She was better."

Jankovic said she's had problems in the past with Dementieva's slow, slicing serves. It was hard to tell this time, though.

"It has some slice on the ball and it's a lot slower than all the other players," Jankovic said. "But now I got used to it somehow."

Dementieva has frequently struggled with her serve. She had so much trouble while losing the 2004 Open final to Svetlana Kuznetsova that she served almost everything sidearm, drawing laughs from the crowd.

"You wouldn't believe how many people gave me ideas on what I should do. It was crazy," Dementieva said earlier in the tournament. "I knew it was just mental. But then I thought everyone can serve. I can do it, too."

The 10th seed and 1998 champion, Davenport faces Henin-Hardenne in their second matchup in 11 days. On Aug. 26, Davenport was trailing Henin-Hardenne 6-0, 1-0 when she retired from their Pilot Pen Tennis final with a right shoulder injury. It was Davenport's sixth straight defeat against the Belgian after winning their first five encounters.

"She's been a very tough opponent for me the last few years," Davenport said after her 6-4, 6-4 win over No. 7 Patty Schnyder on Monday. "She plays really well. ... I haven't necessarily sat down with a game plan yet to go in it, but I'm hopefully gonna have to think of something else -- a little different than I've done. I know I've lost to her a number of times in a row."

Henin-Hardenne was much sharper in the fourth round Monday, dropping just one game to No. 21 Shahar Peer of Israel.

Information from The Associated Press, Reuters and SportsTicker was used in this report.