Stosur marches on in Moscow

TUNISIAN TRIUMPH::Sam Stosur recovered from a second-set hiccup, while in the men’s tournament, Malek Jaziri reached his first ATP semi

AFP, MOSCOW

Sun, Oct 21, 2012 - Page 19

Top-seeded Australian Samantha Stosur eased into the Kremlin Cup semi-finals on Friday with a comfortable 6-1, 6-3 win over Czech Klara Zakopalova to set up a clash with former world No. 1 Ana Ivanovic.

Stosur, currently ninth in the WTA rankings, was in command from the start, breaking Zakopalova’s serve three times for a one-set lead in 27 minutes.

In the second set, Stosur was trailing 3-1 after Zakopalova broke in the third game. However the reigning US Open champion then broke back twice to win the set and the match.

Stosur will now face Ivanovic, the 2008 French Open champion and fourth seed, who also advanced into the semi-finals, beating unheralded compatriot Vesna Dolonc 6-4, 6-1 in an all-Serbian quarter-final.

“It’s going to be a tough match as we didn’t play each other for a long time,” Stosur said about her forthcoming match against Ivanovic. “I’m going to be ready for anything. I shall concentrate on my own game, be ready to work hard and be also ready for long rallies.”

Third seed Caroline Wozniacki defeated defending champion Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia to also advance.

Wozniacki won 6-2, 6-7 (1/7), 6-1 to record her ninth win over Cibulkova, who is 14th in the rankings, in their 12th head-to-head meeting.

“It was a very good match as both of us played very well,” Wozniacki said. “The difference at the end was that I could just keep my highest level up and I managed to win the most important points, especially at the beginning of the third set.”

The 22-year-old Dane, who is currently 11th in the world but could still break into the top 10 by season’s end, broke twice in winning the opening set.

Cibulkova pulled the scores level at one set all after winning the second set tiebreak, but early in the deciding set the 23-year-old Slovak needed treatment on her bandaged right leg.

She never fully recovered, unable to resist the power and precision of Wozniacki, who broke twice to take the set and the match on her first match point.

Next up for Wozniacki is Sofia Arvidsson of Sweden.

Arvidsson, 46 in the world, saw off seventh seed Maria Kirilenko, the last Russian player in the draw, 6-3, 6-3.

In the men’s section of the event, Malek Jaziri beat Czech Lukas Rosol 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 to become the first Tunisian player to reach an ATP semi-final.

“I’m really happy to reach the semi-finals,” Jaziri said. “And if I’m lucky enough, why not make my first ATP final?”

Jaziri will face second-seeded Andreas Seppi of Italy who eased past Japan’s eighth seed Tatsuma Ito, 6-2, 6-1.

Croatian giant Ivo Karlovic also breezed into the semis, beating Frenchman Edouard Roger-Vasselin 7-6 (7/4), 6-3.

He will face fourth seeded Brazilian Thomaz Belluci, who beat Pole Jerzy Janowicz 6-4, 7-6 (7/3), for a place in the final.

AUSTRIAN OPEN

AP, VIENNA

Top-seeded Juan Martin del Potro and Janko Tipsarevic won in straight sets on Friday to reach the semi-finals of the Austrian Open.

Del Potro defeated Marinko Matosevic of Australia 6-2, 6-2 to line up a match against Gilles Muller of Luxembourg, while second-seeded Tipsarevic was leading 6-2, 4-2 when Aljaz Bedene of Slovenia retired with a left thigh injury. He will now play Grega Zemlja of Slovenia, who scored 14 straight points to close out a 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 win over Tommy Haas.

It was del Potro’s second match since returning from a right wrist injury that sidelined him for more than a month.

“I feel confident with my shots but I need to improve a little bit,” the eighth-ranked Argentine said. “I would love to be in the final, but I need to serve well and find a way to break [Muller’s] serve.”

Del Potro saved a break point in his opening service game against Matosevic and two more while serving for victory, but was in control throughout the match.

Muller advanced after defeating Paolo Lorenzi of Italy 6-3, 6-4. Muller had 10 aces and earned one break in each set to reach his second semi-final of the year.

Tipsarevic’s match took just over an hour. Bedene, playing in his first career quarter-final, won the first nine points on his serve in the opening set but lost the next four as he was broken at 2-2. Tipsarevic dominated from then on as Bedene became hampered by his injury and struggled to move.

“I would rather win in a normal way but it’s good for me this time,” the ninth-ranked Serb said. “I had a doubles match late last night and didn’t get to bed until half past one.”

Tipsarevic’s chances of qualifying for next month’s season-ending ATP World Tour Finals in London would be boosted by a good result in Vienna.

“I am ready, I am mentally fresh, I am hungry,” Tipsarevic said. “I still feel there is room for improvement in my tennis. There are small things that you can add to your arsenal of weapons.”

Later on Friday, the 70th-ranked Zemlja broke Haas’ serve at 2-2 in the deciding set and did not drop a point afterward to reach his first career semi-final.

“This is a huge surprise, I didn’t even expect to win my first round here,” said Zemlja, who had to qualify for the main draw and who was 0-5 against top-20 players.

“I played well. Now I have the confidence that I can beat the top players,” he said.

STOCKHOLM OPEN

AP, STOCKHOLM

Top-seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga defeated Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-3, 6-4 on Friday to earn a place in the Stockholm Open semi-finals against 2009 champion Marcos Baghdatis.

The seventh-ranked Frenchman, playing in the Swedish capital for the first time, put on an impressive display of serve and volley tennis to advance.

Leading 5-3 in the second set, Tsonga squandered four match points on Stakhovsky’s serve. However, on his own serve, Tsonga finished with a powerful forehand winner on the fifth match point.

Cypriot Baghdatis edged Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis 6-3, 7-6 (4).

The other semi-final features Spain’s Nicolas Almagro and second-seeded Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic.

Almagro beat former No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt 6-1, 6-4, while Berdych defeated Russia’s Mikhail Youzhny 6-3, 7-6 (2) in the late match.

In a highly entertaining contest filled with baseline rallies, Berdych looked set for a comfortable win when he broke Youzhny early in the second set.

However, Youzhny raised his game and immediately broke back, after which the two players held serve until the tie-break. At that point, Berdych moved up a gear, taking a 5-0 lead before sealing his place in the semis.

Berdych is now 6-6 in head-to-head meetings with Youzhny.

LUXEMBOURG OPEN

AP, LUXEMBOURG

Venus Willians beat top-seeded Roberta Vinci of Italy 7-6 (7/2), 6-4 on Friday to reach the semi-finals of the Luxembourg Open.

Playing in her first tournament since the US Open, Williams will next face Andrea Petkovic of Germany, who defeated Ksenia Pervak of Kazakhstan, 6-3, 6-2.

In the bottom half of the draw, Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia beat Lourdes Dominguez Lino of Spain, 7-5, 6-0 to set up semi-final against Monica Niculescu of Romania, who defeated Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic, 6-0, 6-4.