Williams ranking moves up significantly

How has Serena Williams made it this far? Luke Jensen has the answers to five burning questions.

Updated: January 25, 2007, 2:15 PM ET

SEED KILLER

Serena Williams has climbed 77 places in the rankings in just two tournaments this year, and guaranteed herself a spot in the top 20 by reaching the final of the Australian Open. She'll go to No. 14 if she wins Saturday.

Williams plummeted to 140th, her worst ranking in almost a decade, in 2006 during an injury-plagued season in which she played just four tournaments, before climbing back to end the year at 95th.

Three weeks ago, Williams lost in the quarterfinals of the Hobart International before starting play unseeded and ranked 81st at the Australian Open, where she has beaten four seeded players to reach the final against top-seeded Maria Sharapova. Williams' win Thursday against Nicole Vaidisova gives her enough points to come in at 18th when the WTA Tour rankings are updated on Monday, and four higher if she beats Sharapova, who already has enough points to take the No. 1 spot from Justine Henin.

Williams, a seven-time Grand Slam winner who spent six years in the top 10 before her injury problems started in 2005, let out a celebratory whoop Thursday when asked about cracking the top 20 again.

"I can't believe it," she said. "That's awesome. That was so fast."

-- Associated Press


NO GLARING DISTRACTIONS
Nicole Vaidisova
Vaidisova

Nicole Vaidisova reported no problems during her loss in the Australian Open semifinals after a fan of Serena Williams was reportedly caught reflecting the glare off his watch into her eyes during the match.

A local TV broadcaster pointed out a man, sitting in Williams' players box, moving his watch around at various times and reflecting the sun onto the court.

Vaidisova, who lost 7-6 (5), 6-4 Thursday, said she didn't notice anything that would have distracted her from the match.

The issue was raised by respected television commentator John Barrett, who said flashes of glare were coming off the watch face of a man sitting in front of Williams' mother, Oracene.

"It is an extraordinary coincidence that whenever Vaidisova is serving, that youngster seems to be getting [the sunlight] into the eyes of Vaidisova," Barrett said.

Vaidisova was asked after her loss if she was affected by sun glare at any stage during the match.

"No, didn't notice anything," she said. "It was sunny, of course. But, no, not really crazy that I noticed."

Williams deadpanned laughter when asked to respond to the allegation, then frowned.

"That's the most outrageous thing I've ever heard," said Williams, a seven-time Grand Slam winner who is making a comeback from an injury-plagued 2006. "As if anyone would do that on purpose."

Tennis Australia spokesman John Lindsay said officials had not asked for a copy of the television footage for review, and that there were no plans to investigate the incident.

-- Associated Press


PHOTO OF THE DAY
Andy Roddick
AP Photo/Rob Griffith
Andy Roddick had no answers for Roger Federer in their semifinal encounter. Federer won in straight sets 6-4, 6-0, 6-2.
ADVANTAGE LUKE JENSEN
DAY 11
STAT OF THE DAY
45 -- In his semifinal win, Roger Federer hit 45 winners. Andy Roddick won 45 total points in the match.