Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova ended Jelena Jankovic's two-year reign as Italian Open champion when she beat the Serbian 6-1, 7-6 Thursday to go through to the semi-finals.
Former US Open champion Kuznetsova will now be up against sixth seeded Belarussian Victoria Azarenka, who won a scrappy affair against Estonia's Kaia Kanepi 7-6, 6-3.
Jankovic, who defeated Kuznetsova in the 2007 final for the first of her two Rome titles, could find no answer to the venom in her seventh seeded opponent's forehands in the first set.
She fared better in the second set, twice pulling back dropped serves and forcing two break-and-set points in the 12th game.
But Kuznetsova, in fine fettle after ending a title drought stretching back to 2007 at last week's Stuttgart Grand Prix, saved them both before sealing victory in the tiebreak with a backhand winner.
"She was hitting the ball very, very well, deep and with a lot of power," Jankovic told a news conference.
"She didn't allow me to play my game, especially in the first set. She deserved to win. I wanted to win here three times in a row. Unfortunately it didn't happen. But it's not the end of world," added Jankovic, who has slipped to number four in the rankings after ending 2008 top.
World number one Dinara Safina will meet Spain's Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez and American fourth seed Venus Williams will battle with Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska for the other places in the last four later Thursday.