HONG KONG (AP): Venus Williams saw her chance of qualifying for the season-ending WTA Finals slip away yesterday after losing in straight sets to Jelena Jankovic of Serbia in the semi-finals of the Hong Kong Open. Seven-time Grand Slam champion Williams, seeded third, was defeated 6-4, 7-5 in a tense encounter which lasted two hours and four minutes in front of a packed centre court at Victoria Park. “It is disappointing. I had an off day, while she probably played one of her best matches this year,” Williams said. The 35-year-old Williams needed to reach the final today to boost her chances of playing in the lucrative WTA Finals, starting October 25 in Singapore. The last time Williams played in the WTA Finals – where only the world’s top eight-ranked singles players qualify – was in 2009 in Doha. Fourth-seeded Jankovic was helped by a wayward opponent whose usually strong serve deserted her. Williams also failed to take her chances, only converting two of 16 break points in the match. Last-minute wild card entry Jankovic will now meet Germany’s Angelique Kerber in the final. Kerber moved within one win of cementing her place in the WTA Finals after beating Samantha Stosur of Australia 6-2, 6-2. Second-seeded Kerber is presently ranked fifth in the Road to Singapore leaderboard and can book her ticket if she adds the Hong Kong Open title to her wins in Charleston, Stuttgart, Birmingham and Stanford. Meanwhile, Novak Djokovic has made winning so routine this year that even when he dominates one of his biggest rivals, he takes it in stride. The top-ranked Serb broke Andy Murray five times en route to a 6-1, 6-3 win in the semi-finals of the Shanghai Masters yesterday, one of his most lopsided victories ever over the two-time major winner. Afterward, Djokovic said he would only allow himself to enjoy the victory for a moment before turning his attention to today’s final against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, a 6-4, 0-6, 7-5 winner over Rafael Nadal in the other semi-final.
AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREOregon Ducks football players get stuck on Disney ride during Rose Bowl event160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! LANCASTER – Perhaps it was the offseason regime change in Phoenix, or maybe it was just a significant portion of the JetHawks’ parent Arizona Diamondbacks farm system aging out. Whatever the reason, the 2006 JetHawks Opening Day roster has a drastically different complexion than teams Arizona has sent to Lancaster in recent years. The Diamondbacks have sent its share of prospects to Lancaster the past few years, to be sure, but under the regimes of farm directors Tommy Jones and Bob Miller, Arizona has used Lancaster as a quasi-independent squad to which they assigned career minor-leaguers. Even elite prospects they’ve assigned to their advanced Class-A affiliate in the Antelope Valley have been older, top-level collegiate draft picks – such as the “Three Amigos,” Conor Jackson, Carlos Quentin and Jamie D’Antona, who forged the nucleus of the 2004 first-half championship team, and Stephen Drew last season. Under first-year farm director A.J. Hinch, Lancaster opens the season with few familiar faces. The JetHawks return just six players from last year’s team and two others who played in Lancaster in 2004. Only two position players are back, and only one- sparingly used first baseman/outfielder Javier Brito – was on the playoff roster. Despite a glaring lack of experience, several factors contribute to an exceptionally bullish outlook. The JetHawks, who open their California League season tonight at Lake Elsinore, feature nine top-30 Baseball America organizational prospects – more than Arizona has previously sent to Lancaster – from a Diamondbacks system ranked No. 1 by BA and the nucleus of last season’s Single-A South Bend (Ind.) Midwest League championship team. Headlining that group is elite prospect Carlos Gonzalez, last season’s Midwest League MVP. Gonzalez, a 20-year-old left-handed hitting Venezuelan outfielder ranked fourth among Arizona’s prospects, is a five-tool player with explosive power potential. He tapped into that potential in last season’s breakthrough year, when he batted .318 and hit 18 homers in what’s considered a pitchers’ league. Top 30 prospects Cesar Nicolas (No. 22), a right-handed hitting first baseman who hit 21 homers last season at South Bend, outfielder Jerome Milons (No. 26), who hit 10 at South Bend, and Gonzalez give Lancaster a powerful heart of the batting order that figures to be a combustible mix amid the Antelope Valley’s high winds and thin air. “It could get ugly,” JetHawks hitting coach Damon Mashore said. Anchoring a prospect-rich starting rotation are No. 17 Matt Chico and No. 18 A.J. Shappi, who spent half a season at Lancaster last year. Chico, Lancaster’s Opening Day starter, is among three left-handed starters. Closer Matt Elliott was 3-4 with a 2.14 ERA and led the organization with 32 saves last season at South Bend. Manager Brett Butler, the popular former Dodgers outfielder, by all accounts brings the same energy to managing the game as he did playing it. He said he’ll emphasize fundamentally sound baseball. He said he will have the JetHawks playing “small ball” and vowed not to let the conditions of hitter-friendly Lancaster dictate his emphasis on development. “We’re going to teach these guys the way the game is supposed to be played, both fundamentally and situationally,” Butler said. “I didn’t change my style when I went to (Wrigley Field), and I didn’t change my style when I went to Coors Field.” email@example.com (818) 713-3607