Thu, Jan 05, 2012 - Page 20 News List

Lisicki, Kuznetsova survive

Reuters, Auckland, New Zealand

Top seed Sabine Lisicki and third seed Svetlana Kuznetsova overcame frustrating rain delays to advance to the quarter-finals of the Auckland Classic tournament yesterday, while five seeded players were knocked out.

Lisicki endured a 90-minute delay for heavy rain that halted her momentum before she scratched out a 7-6 (7/3), 3-6, 6-3 victory over fellow German Mona Barthel.

Kuznetsova was forced off for 35 minutes with the score 30-30 while she was leading 5-1 in the second set against teenager Christina McHale of the US.

When the pair returned they warmed up for nine minutes before some stoic defense by McHale, who saved three match points. They played for another four minutes with the twice Grand Slam winner sealing the 6-1, 6-1 victory when McHale’s forehand floated wide.

“It was strange, because it was a few points away and the game could have gone either way. It was difficult to maintain concentration, but I think it worked out pretty good for me,” Kuznetsova said in a courtside interview.

“I was playing well. I did have some unforced errors, but I completed my game plan and I’m happy with my performance,” she added after her demolition of the highly rated American, who had beaten the former world No. 2 twice in the last year.

Lisicki also suffered a weather delay earlier yesterday. The 22-year-old had broken Barthel to take a 6-5 lead in the first set and seemed to be getting on top, before rain swept across central Auckland and forced the players off.

They returned about 90 minutes later, but the momentum the world No. 15 had gathered before the rain dissipated and she was broken to force the set into a tiebreak, which she won 7-3.

Barthel rallied to overcome a 0-2 deficit in the second set as neither player seemed to able to hold serve and Lisicki’s swinging second serve on set point down failed to find the center line, forcing a decider.

Lisicki raced to a 3-0 lead in the final set and sealed victory on her second match point.

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