Serena Williams

hasn't played the French Open in 3 years and hardly seems ready for this month's clay-court major.

She made an array of mistakes yesterday in her final match before the French Open, losing to Patty Schnyder, 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (5), at the Italian Open quarterfinals in Rome.

"I'm going to obviously want to work harder and just do some things differently," Williams said. "Where I am today, in Paris I'll probably be even better."

In the semifinals, Schnyder will face third-seeded Jelena Jankovic, who routed Elena Dementieva, 6-2, 6-1. Second-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova beat sixth-seeded Dinara Safina, 6-1, 6-3, in an all-Russian match and will next play ninth-seeded Daniela Hantuchova, who beat unseeded Anabel Medina Garrigues, 7-6 (8), 7-5.

It was only Williams' third loss this season. She began 2007 by winning the Australian Open for her first major title in 2 years.

"I just didn't make the shots I was supposed to make," said Williams, who was seeded eighth. "I probably made 50 unforced errors, which is pretty good to get to 7-6 in the third."

Schnyder, seeded 14th and runner-up in Rome 2 years ago, beat Williams in their only previous match on clay. Williams won the other six meetings

"I have more time to think and I think it's her weakest surface," Schnyder said. "I'm extremely happy that I could do it again this year because she's the champion to beat this year."

In other tennis news:

* Top-seeded Roger Federer advanced to the semifinals of the Hamburg (Germany) Masters along with Carlos Moya, Rafael Nadal and Lleyton Hewitt.

Auto Racing

* Dale Earnhardt Jr. said he's had preliminary talks with potential employers, and his sister has been prioritizing all of his options. He announced last week that he was leaving DEI, his late father's company, at the end of the season.

* Matt Kenseth overtook Jimmie Johnson and took the pole for tonight's Nextel All-Star Challenge in Concord, N.C.


* Sydney Johnson started filling out his basketball coaching staff at Princeton, retaining Tony Newsom and hiring former Tigers teammate Brian Earl.

* Purdue University is moving ahead with a planned $82 million overhaul of Mackey Arena, which would include building practice, sports medicine, conditioning and office facilities around its existing shell.

* Montana State fired football coach Mike Kramer, several days after another former Bobcats athlete was arrested on drug charges.

Sport Stops

* After sitting quietly at the defense table for 5 days, Floyd Landis will take the witness stand today in the most-anticipated moment of an arbitration hearing in Malibu, Calif., that he hopes will confirm he's the Tour de France champion. Meanwhile, the director of a Montreal doping lab rebuffed claims made by Landis' lawyers at yesterday's hearing that technicians who analyzed the Tour de France champion's urine at the French lab used unacceptable methods.

* Cory Spinks, the IBF junior middleweight champion, needed a little extra time to slim down to make weight for tonight's middleweight title fight in Memphis, Tenn., with Jermain Taylor. Spinks eventually weighed in at 159.8 pounds, just below the limit of 160. Taylor had weighed in about an hour earlier at 159.8.

* The NCAA's committee on women in sports will review its guidelines amid reports of female athletes being threatened with the loss of scholarships if they became pregnant. *