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Serena dominates Safarova; Davis Cup squad keeps on rolling

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Serena Williams has plenty to keep her busy. There's college classes, a relaunch of her clothing line and a possible move to Paris.

And, oh yeah, there's that brand of dominant tennis that Williams plays like few others in the world.

Williams capped a week of powerful performances with a 6-0, 6-1 victory over Lucie Safarova to win the Family Circle Cup on Sunday. It was Williams' 40th WTA title and first on clay in four years since capturing this championship in 2008.

Williams didn't expect to show so strongly in her first event of the season on clay. She said the steady stream of things she deals with off the tennis court helps keep her focused when she's on it.

"I'm just trying to keep my mind busy," Williams said. "I'm doing so much it keeps me staying in the moment."

This week, that's been playing some of the most dominant matches of her career. Williams followed up a 6-1, 6-1 steamroll over Samantha Stosur, the world's fifth-ranked player, in the semifinals Saturday with her rout of Safarova.

Williams said she had some mediocre practices this week, yet saved her best when it counted most.

"I've never played, I can say, consistently at such a high level with low errors" the last two matches, Williams said.

"And the scary thing is," she says, "I could've served so much better."

Williams was dominant on her serves this week. She wasn't broken in her final four matches, going 25-0 in her service games. The closest Safarova came was in the first set when she couldn't cash in on break points in the third and fifth games. Williams escaped both, getting out of the final jam with a 116 mph service winner to lead 5-0.

Safarova avoided the double-bagel, the 6-0, 6-0 fate she hung on Polona Hercog to reach the final, by taking the fourth game of the second set at love. Safarova pounded a forehand winner to loud applause, smiling and lifting her head in relief.

Williams wrapped it up with a 107-mph ace, her fifth of the match, and received a long ovation from the crowd. She leads the WTA with 108 aces on the season.

"She was amazing," said Safarova, who fell to 0-5 against Williams. "She deserves to be the champion."

Safarova became a Family Circle champion, too, later Sunday, teaming with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to win the doubles title over Anabel Medina Garrigues and Yaroslava Shvedova in a third-set tiebreaker.

"It's been wonderful and fun all week," Safarova said.

Williams won her 40th title to move one away from Kim Clijsters among active players on the career list. Venus Williams leads with 43 championships.

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U.S. earns date with Spain

ROQUEBRUNE, France -- Having beaten Roger Federer's Switzerland and France on the road, the U.S. Davis Cup team now awaits a more daunting obstacle -- defending champion Spain in the semifinals.

John Isner sent the Americans into the next round by winning Sunday's opening singles match -- a 6-3, 7-6 (4) 5-7, 6-3 victory over sixth-ranked Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France. The U.S. is in the last four of the Davis Cup for the first time since 2008.

"We've had the worst draw you could possibly imagine. I'm shocked that we're still in the Davis Cup this year," U.S. captain Jim Courier said. "We're going to be the underdog in Spain, but we're going to come with guns blazing."

Isner won both his singles in style, dispatching Gilles Simon on Friday and refusing to get rattled against Tsonga. Simon beat 19-year-old Ryan Harrison, 6-2, 6-3, in Sunday's last match to make the final score 3-2.

In other quarterfinals, host Czech Republic topped Serbia, 4-1, and host Argentina beat Croatia, 4-1. The semifinals are in September.

Just like four years ago, the Americans beat the French to set up a series against Spain. That time, Spain won, 4-1, at home on clay. Whether Rafael Nadal plays for Spain, Courier expects an intense series.

"Anytime you step on the court against Spain they're tough. They beat us at home last year without Rafa, on hard court, indoors," he said. "They have been the best team in the world for the past decade."

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