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Serena powers to final

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 ballboy 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, yesterday.

Serena's opponent tomorrow will be No. 5 Elena Dementieva, who will try for a Williams sweep. She upset three-time champion Venus Wednesday and won an all-Russian semifinal last night, beating No. 8 Nadia Petrova 6-4, 6-2.

Andy Roddick and Vince Spadea advanced to the Key Biscayne semifinals for the first time and will meet tonight. The second-seeded Roddick came from behind twice and won the final four games to beat No. 5 Carlos Moya, 5-7, 6-2, 7-5.

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. Williams smacked 28 winners in her semifinal victory, and when she hit back-to-back aces midway through the second set, Daniilidou turned to the ballboy for help.

Williams's reaction?

"Hit another ace," she said.

"I couldn't even see where she was serving," Daniilidou said. The top-seeded Williams is 5-0 since returning last week from an eight-month layoff following knee surgery. She's bidding to win the tournament for the third year in a row. The other men's semifinal tonight will be an all-South American matchup between No. 3 Guillermo Coria and No. 21 Fernando Gonzalez.

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