KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. — A serve by Serena Williams nearly hit Eleni Daniilidou in the face. A point-blank exchange at the net left Daniilidou looking like a dodge-ball target. And so when she handed her racket to a ball boy in mock surrender, he quickly gave it back.
Can't blame the kid for wanting no part of Williams, whose comeback has the momentum of an overhead slam.
Playing her first tournament since July, Williams advanced to the final of the Nasdaq-100 Open by beating Daniilidou 6-4, 6-4 Thursday. Her opponent Saturday will be No. 5 Elena Dementieva.
"As far as I've gotten is a major confidence boost, regardless of what happens," Williams said. "I really, really am proud of myself because it's hard to come back. It's nerve-racking."
Dementieva will try for a Williams sweep. She upset three-time champion Venus on Wednesday and won an all-Russian semifinal Thursday night, beating No. 8 Nadia Petrova 6-4, 6-2.
Andy Roddick and Vince Spadea advanced to the semifinals at Key Biscayne for the first time and will meet tonight. The No. 2-seeded Roddick came from behind twice and won the final four games to beat No. 5 Carlos Moya 5-7, 6-2, 7-5.
"I feel like I've cheesed through a couple of matches this week," Roddick said. "But I'm still alive, and hopefully we can make something of it this weekend."
The unseeded Spadea, who won his first career title last month in Scottsdale, Ariz., at age 29, beat No. 20 Agustin Calleri 7-5, 6-1.
The other semifinal today will be an all-South American matchup between No. 3 Guillermo Coria of Argentina and No. 21 Fernando Gonzalez of Chile.