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Serena advances to meet Stosur in Family Circle Cup semis in Charleston

Serena Williams had it easy, the beneficiary of Sabine Lisicki’s twisted ankle and broken heart. Samantha Stosur took a longer green clay path to today’s Family Circle Cup semifinals.

Serena advanced Friday when Lisicki retired with an ankle injury, down 4-1 in the first set.

Stosur played more than two of her three sets against Galina Voskoboeva early Friday in a match that was suspended by Thursday night’s rain. Then she survived a classic three-set grind against fellow former Family Circle Cup champion Venus Williams later in the afternoon.

Stosur finally caught her breath after the 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 win on a chilly day within a warm-weather week.

“It wasn’t the end of the world to get out here and play this morning and get used to these conditions, because (Friday was) very different than what we had been playing in,” Stosur said.

The Australian will meet Serena today in a battle of former Family Circle Cup champions (Stosur 2009, Serena 2008).

Serena is 5-4 against Stosur and won last month on hardcourts in Miami. But Stosur defeated Serena in the 2011 U.S. Open final and is 1-0 head-to-head on clay, winning a 2010 French Open quarterfinal.

“I think, for sure, clay isn’t her most favorite surface,” Stosur said. “But it’s always tough playing Serena no matter what surface you’re on.”

Asked if she had a Stosur scouting report for her sister, Venus smiled.

“I think she played her a week and a half ago in Miami, so she’s probably pretty fresh on it,” Venus said. “Maybe I could have used more advice from her.”

Venus, the 2004 Family Circle Cup champion, is gradually regaining her former No. 1 form after missing seven months coping with a freshly diagnosed autoimmune disease that causes fatigue. Her Miami participation last month was her first since the 2011 U.S. Open.

In Charleston, she won three matches highlighted by a straight set win over No. 7 seed Jelena Jankovic.

“I did my best,” Venus said. “I know I can play even better. You know, I think sometimes my errors didn’t help my cause.”

Lisicki, the No. 6 seed and 2009 Family Circle Cup champion, collapsed in obvious pain on the court at 1-1 in the first set. She received treatment from a trainer and tried to continue.

Lisicki was nagged by ankle problems for much of 2010, dropping to No. 218 in the rankings; she currently is ranked No. 13.

No. 8-ranked Serena Williams already had defeated 2011 Family Circle runner-up Elena Vesnina and Mariana Erakovic this week.