Thu, Jan 12, 2012 - Page 20 News List

Kvitova closes on top ranking as Wozniacki loses

AFP, SYDNEY

Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark returns to Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland in their match at the Sydney International yesterday.

Photo: Reuters

Caroline Wozniacki was dumped from the Sydney International yesterday, opening the way for rival Petra Kvitova to seize the world No. 1 ranking heading into next week’s Australian Open.

Wozniacki crashed out to Polish world No. 8 Agnieszka Radwanska 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 in the quarter-finals after being broken while serving out for the match at 5-4 in the second set.

Radwanska will now face Belarussian third seed Victoria Azarenka in today’s semis, with Kvitova lining up against Chinese defending champion Li Na in the day’s other semi-final.

Wimbledon champion Kvitova had an emphatic straight-sets victory over Daniela Hantuchova, while world No. 5 Li downed Czech Lucie Safarova 6-2, 7-6 (7/3).

Kvitova is on track to take the No. 1 ranking by winning the tournament.

Wozniacki, whose tenure at the top of the women’s singles rankings comes despite not yet winning a Grand Slam in 19 attempts, was taken to a third set by Radwanska after appearing to be in a winning position.

The Dane seemed troubled by a left-wrist injury as Radwanska broke her three times in the final to claim only her second victory in seven meetings.

Earlier, Kvitova reeled off the opening eight games before dishing out a 6-0, 6-4 victory over Hantuchova, the Slovak No. 21.

Kvitova, who like Li has been in top form in preparation for the season’s first Grand Slam in Melbourne, swept to victory breaking Hantuchova’s service five times for her fourth win over the Slovakian.

Li said she was playing her best tennis since before last year’s Wimbledon as she battled into the semi-finals.

The world No. 5 needed 1 hour, 50 minutes to subdue battling Czech Safarova in blustery conditions to move into the last four in the defense of the Sydney title she won last year.

It was Li’s third win this week, continuing her upsurge in form after a dismal follow-up to her landmark French Open success at Roland Garros, which saw her become the first Asian to win a Grand Slam title.

Li, 29, was clearly relieved to have put her problems of the second half of last year behind her and is eyeing back-to-back Sydney finals.

“Of course I’m feeling good,” she said. “Win here last year and this year reach the semis in just the beginning of the year, yeah, I am feeling much, much stronger.”

Belarussian Azarenka downed France’s Marion Bartoli 7-5, 6-4 in their quarter-final.

In the men’s matches, Juan Martin del Potro brushed aside Lukasz Kubot to reach the quarter-finals as the Argentine edges closer to cracking the top 10 rankings.

World No. 11 del Potro, clawing his way back after a career-threatening wrist injury, downed the 58th-ranked Polish player 6-4, 6-2 in blustery conditions on the Ken Rosewall Arena.

The 2009 US Open champion and Sydney top seed will take on unseeded Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis in the quarter-finals.

Baghdatis, the 2010 Sydney champion, took more than two hours to subdue Australia’s Matthew Ebden 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7/3).

American second seed John Isner crashed out 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 to compatriot Bobby Reynolds, who will face Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen in the last eight.

Nieminen, a runner-up in Sydney three years ago, accounted for eighth seed Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic 7-6 (7/5), 5-7, 6-1.

French third seed Richard Gasquet cruised past Italian Fabio Fognini in straight sets and will take on Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin in the quarters.

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