Venus slips to defeat
Hantuchova beats elder Williams sister for first time in 11 attempts
Last Updated: 16/06/11 6:51pm
Williams: wayward serve proved costly
Venus Williams' hopes of securing a title on her return from injury were ended by Daniela Hantuchova in the quarter-finals of the AEGON International at Eastbourne.
Williams, who has this week returned to the game after a spell on the sidelines with knee and hip problems, had impressed in reaching the last eight but her Slovakian opponent proved too strong as she secured a 6-2 5-7 6-2 success.
The American, seeded 23 for Wimbledon, struggled badly during the opening set and conceded two breaks of serve to lose it 6-2.
She appeared to be on the verge of a straight-sets defeat after being broken again early in the second set but she rallied valiantly from 4-2 down to force a decider.
But her serve let her down as she won just 38 percent of first serve points in the final set to allow Hantuchova to prevail in a match lasting almost two and a half hours.
Williams' sister Serena, herself returning from injury, went out to Vera Zvonareva in the second round on Wednesday.
Hantuchova's reward is a semi-final meeting with fifth-seeded Czech Petra Kvitova, who saw off Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska 1-6 6-2 7-6 (7-2).
The other half of the draw will see French Open runner-up Marion Bartoli take on Sam Stosur of Australia.
Bartoli, a former Wimbledon finalist, was leading third seed Victoria Azarenka 6-2 2-0 when the Belarusian called it a day, while Stosur knocked out top seed Zvonareva 4-6 7-6 6-4.
Zvonareva initially adapted better to conditions made difficult by a blustery wind but Stosur found her rhythm in the second set when she recovered from 4-2 down, hitting with more confidence to reel off three successive games.
She went 6-5 up after the longest game of the tournament, surviving three break points and 10 deuces, and though Zvonareva took it to a tie-break, the Australian won it well.
Stosur, who had won their last six meetings, flew out of the blocks in the second set, breaking a weary-looking Zvonareva to love in her first two service games to lead 3-0 and 5-1, only for Zvonareva to fight back to 5-4, saving a match point.
However, Stosur served out to love to complete an impressive victory.