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U.S. Open: Vera Zvonareva safely into semifinals, joins Clijsters, Williams

September 8, 2010 | 12:58 pm

Vera Vera Zvonareva played cautiously in the wind, holding back on trying to make outsized winners and figuring out that having the wind at her back sometimes is a good thing.

The 26-year-old Zvonareva, who had played in her first Wimbledon final last July and got beat by Serena Williams, is in her first U.S. Open semifinal Wednesday after she beat the 31st-seeded Kaia Kanepi of Estonia, 6-3, 7-5.

Kanepi had become the first woman to become a Wimbledon quarterfinalist as a qualifier in July but the 25-year-old was befuddled by the wind, as evidenced by her 60 unforced errors. She would often screech in anguish as the tennis ball fluttered out of her reach or landed outside the lines when a gust carried a carefully-contructed shot somewhere it wasn't supposed to land.

"The conditions were very hard for me," Kanepi said. "Vera handled it better I think."

Zvonareva is having a much better time in New York this year. Last year she famously suffered a meltdown in Arthur Ashe Stadium in a night match where she squandered a big lead, wept in frustration and clawed the supportive tape off her sore knees in mid-game. She even asked the chair umpire for scissors to cut the tape. The umpire wisely chose to not give the emotional Zvonareva a sharp instrument.

At Wimbledon, Zvonareva said she is not embarrassed by her need to let out her feelings on the court. While she played (and also lost) the Wimbledon doubles final this year she began crying in the second set. ''Tears aren't bad," she said. "I have to release my feelings sometimes."

Zvonareva will play the winner of Wednesday's night match between top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki and unseeded Dominika Cibulkova. The other Friday semifinal will have defending champion and second-seeded Kim Clijsters against third-seeded and two-time champion Venus Williams.

-- Diane Pucin, reporting from New York

Photo: Vera Zvonareva returns during her quarterfinal match against Kaia Kanepi on Wednesday. Credit: Jim McIsaac / Getty Images