Vera Zvonareva came from 5-3 down in the deciding set to beat Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia 7-5, 6-7 (5), 7-5 in a thrilling quarter-final of the Qatar Ladies Open on Thursday.
Zvonareva lined up a semi-final against familiar foe Jelena Jankovic, who defeated Czech Klara Zakopalova 6-2, 6-4.
Top-ranked Caroline Wozniacki won 12 straight games to beat Flavia Pennetta of Italy 6-2, 6-0 and set up a semi-final against Marion Bartoli of France.
Hantuchova had beaten Zvonareva in the Pattaya Open semi-finals this month and looked set for an encore. However, the Russian rallied to break back in the 10th and 12th games to end the three-hour and 10-minute match.
Wozniacki extended her winning streak to eight matches.
She wore a Liverpool soccer shirt with Steven Gerrard’s name on the back during the warmup.
“I’m a big fan of Liverpool,” Wozniacki said. “Since Liverpool is playing tonight [against Sparta Prague], I thought it would be nice and even the fans liked it.”
Wozniacki made just seven unforced errors against Pennetta, who appeared to lose heart after dropping serve in a 12-minute fourth game. The top-seeded Wozniacki finally won it with one of her trademark backhand returns to draw level at 2-2.
Pennetta fared no better in the second set, committing 21 unforced errors.
Bartoli ended Peng Shuai’s challenge in just 71 minutes with a 6-2, 6-2 victory.
In the doubles’ Taiwan’s Chan Yung-jan and Zheng Jie of China needed only 49 minutes to defeat Sania Mirza of India and Elena Vesnina of Russia 6-2, 6-0.
The No. 3 seeds faced second-seeded Liezel Huber of the US and Nadia Petrova of Russia yesterday for a place in the final.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY STAFF WRITER
AP, DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, winners of six of the previous eight Dubai Championships, remained on course to meet in the final with quarter-final wins on Thursday.
Federer beat Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine 6-3, 6-4, while Djokovic beat Florian Mayer 7-5, 6-4.
Federer will play Richard Gasquet, who overcame Gilles Simon 5-7, 6-2, 6-4. Djokovic will next meet Tomas Berdych.
Berdych beat Phillip Petzschner of Germany 7-5, 6-4.
AFP, DELRAY BEACH, FLORIDA
Colombian qualifier Alejandro Falla upset French eighth seed Adrian Mannarino 6-3, 6-2 on Thursday to reach the quarter-finals of the ATP Delray Beach International Championships.
The 119th-ranked South American opened with a break and closed out the match in 77 minutes with another break to win the battle of the left-handers and oust the 61st-ranked Mannarino from the US$442,500 event.
Falla was to try to qualify yesterday for only his second ATP semi-final, his first since 2007 in Lyon, when he faced US second seed Mardy Fish, who beat Brazil’s Ricardo Mello 6-2, 6-1.
In the night match, Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina crushed Teymuraz Gabashvili of Russia 6-1, 6-1.
Del Potro will play fifth-seeded South African Kevin Anderson in the quarter-finals after Anderson easily defeated Florent Serra of France 6-1, 6-4 in the other late match.