Fri, May 20, 2011 - Page 19 News List

Lucic beats Dokic in battle of ex-prodigies

AFP, STRASBOURG, FRANCE

Croatia’s Mirjana Lucic won a battle of former prodigies, beating Australia’s Jelena Dokic in straight sets to reach her first -quarter--finals in 12 years at the WTA Strasbourg Open on Wednesday.

The 29-year-old US-based player, who had to come through the qualifiers in Stasbourg, France, this week, eased past Dokic 6-2, 6-2 in their second-round match.

It was a remarkable turnaround of fortunes for Lucic, who disappeared from the circuit for five years because of personal and -family-related problems after a promising junior career during which she won Grand Slam titles.

Lucic was just 15 when she won the first WTA event she played at Bol, Croatia, in 1997, and the following year won a Grand Slam doubles title at the Australian Open, rising to her career-high ranking of number 32.

She was a semi-finalist at Wimbledon in 1999, but thereafter failed to reach the quarter-finals of a tournament, and did not play in a WTA event from 2004 to 2006.

The breakthrough came last year when she finished the year ranked No. 105, her highest season-ending ranking since 1999.

She had little resistance from 28-year-old Dokic, a former world No. 4, who also had family problems in the past.

Dokic, the 2000 Wimbledon semi-finalist, won her first title in almost nine years at Kuala Lumpur last month.

However, she could find no way past Lucic, who next meets Spanish seventh-seed Anabel Medina Garrigues, a three-time champion here, who beat Serb Bojana Jovanovski 6-2, 6-0.

Top-seed Marion Bartoli of France advanced when Britain’s Elena Baltacha retired after suffering a right lumbar spine injury suffered in practice with a back problem, and next plays Czech eighth-seed Lucie Hradecka for a semi-final place.

Second-seed Andrea Petkovic of Germany beat China’s Zhang Shuai 6-1, 6-3 and next meets Russian fifth-seed Maria Kirilenko.

Also through are Russia’s Nadia Petrova, the fourth-seed, and Slovak Daniela Hantuchova, the sixth-seed, who was playing here for the first time since achieving her first WTA quarter-final appearance ever in Strasbourg as a 17-year-old back in 2000.

Former world No. 4 Hantuchova beat France’s Mathilde Johansson 6-4, 6-2.

“Today was very hot and very fast, but that’s how it’s going to be in Paris [Roland Garros],” Hantuchova said. “I’m really glad to be playing here because I think it’s a perfect preparation for next week.”

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