published Thursday, June 16th, 2011

Venus Williams loses in 3 sets at Eastbourne

EASTBOURNE, England — Venus Williams lost to Daniela Hantuchova 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 Thursday in the quarterfinals at Eastbourne.

Her defeat comes a day after sister Serena Williams lost to top-seeded Vera Zvonareva. Both sisters are returning from lengthy injury breaks.

Hantuchova had previously won only two sets in 10 previous meetings with Venus. But she has been in good form recently, reaching the Birmingham final last week. She advances to her third semifinal in her last four events.

Williams will aim for her sixth Wimbledon title when the tournament begins on Monday.

The American played her first event in five months since retiring with hip and abdominal injuries during the Australian Open in January.

Hantuchova dominated the listless Williams in the first set, serving well, playing aggressively and showing confidence in going for the lines.

The former No. 5-ranked Slovak broke in the third game after Williams double-faulted and then made a backhand error. She broke again to lead 5-2 with a superbly struck backhand pass down the line.

Williams offered a brief challenge as Hantuchova served for the set but failed to convert three break points. Hantuchova closed out the set with a crosscourt winner.

Hantuchova held a break point in the second set to lead 5-3. But she hit a ball down the line that landed wide, and Williams went on to break for 4-4 when her return clipped the net and fell in her favor.

Williams broke at love for the set when Hantuchova netted a weak backhand.

With both players battling a strong wind, Hantuchova regained the upper hand in the final set, breaking for 1-0. Williams made a brief revival, leveling at 2-2 before Hantuchova swept the next four games.

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