WTA: Chan, Husarova cruise into final

HICCUP::In the singles, top seed Victoria Azarenka overcame a second-set lapse against Ana Ivanovic to set up a final against Australia’s Samantha Stosur

Staff writer, with Reuters, CARLSBAD, California

Mon, Aug 05, 2013 - Page 20

Taiwan’s Chan Hao-ching reached the final of the doubles competition at the WTA Southern California Open on Saturday.

Chan and her partner, Janette Husarova of Slovakia defeated fourth seeds Jelena Jankovic of Serbia and Katarina Srebotnik of Slovenia 6-3, 6-2 in their semi-final.

Chan and Husarova converted seven of 14 break-point chances to set up a final against third-seeded US duo Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears, who beat Zimbabwe’s Cara Black and Marina Erakovic of New Zealand 7-5, 6-1 in the other semi-final.

In the singles competition, top seed Victoria Azarenka overcame a lapse of concentration to defeat Ana Ivanovic 6-0, 4-6, 6-3 in their semi-final.

Playing in her first tournament since suffering knee and hip injuries at Wimbledon, the Belarussian dug herself out of a second-set hole to subdue the 2008 French Open champion, who also ran hot and cold throughout.

Australia’s Samantha Stosur faces Azarenka in the final after the fifth seed utilized her big serve and forehand to repel French wild-card Virginie Razzano 7-6 (7/2), 6-3 in the second semi-final.

“It’s something that you expect from Ana, she’s a very big shot-maker and loves to bang the ball,” Azarenka told reporters of her hard-hitting Serbian opponent. “For me, the key was to not let her make those shots and be the one who was putting the pressure. I did feel more consistent.”

World No. 3 Azarenka raced through the first set, breaking seventh seed Ivanovic three times, but was less than thrilled with her play in the second, where she was broken to love and conceded it to three sizzling forehand winners.

Azarenka composed herself in the third, breaking Ivanovic with a ripping forehand cross-court winner and never giving the Serbian a look at her serve.

Following her win, the double Australian Open champion is guaranteed to pass Russia’s Maria Sharapova for the world No. 2 ranking when they are released today. Serena Williams will remain at No. 1.

Azarenka has won 28 straight matches on outdoor hard courts since her US Open final defeat last year, despite withdrawing from three tournaments during the period with injuries.

“The reality is we have most of the tournaments on hard, but that’s a great statistic,” Azarenka said.

In the late match, Stosur was able to overcome a 4-0 deficit in the first set by overpowering her ambitious opponent to reach a first WTA final in nine months.

After recovering from a slow start, Stosur dictated most of the action and played a far more authoritative tiebreaker, winning it 7-2 with a big serve that Razzano could barely touch.

The Australian broke Razzano early in the second set and went on to seal victory when the Frenchwoman, who had needed three and a half hours to upset third seed Petra Kvitova in the quarter-finals, hit a backhand long.

“I don’t feel like I was playing too bad at the start to be 4-0 down, but she was hitting a lot of winners and making me move a lot,” said Stosur, who ripped 20 winners. “So I thought I have to do something to change this and be more aggressive off the front foot a lot earlier in the rallies, dictate earlier, and that made the difference.”

Azarenka was a strong favorite going into the final, with the top seed holding an 8-0 record against Stosur in previous meetings.