Russia’s Alisa Kleybanova reached her first WTA quarter-final since she overcame cancer when she beat sixth seeded Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro 7-6 (7/2), 6-4 in the joint ATP and WTA Kremlin Cup on Wednesday.
The 24-year-old — winner of two WTA titles — was once ranked as high as 20th in the world, but she has been battling to regain some form ever since she returned to the circuit this year after being treated in 2011 and part of last year for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
“I always liked to play with Carla and I knew it would be a tough match today, but I think that today I played more accurately than her at key moments and that’s why I won,” Kleybanova said.
Later Italian Roberta Vinci also reached the quarter-finals winning a high quality match with Elena Vesnina of Russia 2-6, 6-1, 6-4.
Vinci, 30 and better known as a double specialist, although she is a career high 11th in the singles rankings and seeded two in Moscow, will play another Russian in the last eight in the shape of two-time Grand Slam winner Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Vesnina, ranked 25th in the world, looked in command from the start breaking her rival’s serve twice in the opening set to take it in 30 minutes.
However, in the second Vinci stepped up a gear breaking her opponent’s serve on three occasions to level the match at one set apiece.
The rivals traded breaks early in the third set before Vinci made the decisive break to win the match.
Kuznetsova, seeded eight, advanced into the quarters with a straight-sets win, 6-2, 7-5, over Sofia Arvidsson of Sweden.
Meanwhile, last year’s beaten finalist Australia’s Samantha Stosur, seeded seven, outclassed unseeded Kaia Kanepi of Estonia, the finalist in 2011, in straight sets 6-3, 6-1 to reach the second round as she was allowed to start her campaign later having jetted in after winning the title in Osaka on Sunday.
The 29-year-old Stosur, ranked 19th to her opponent’s 29th, converted four of her 11 break points in the 65-minute encounter.
In the men’s section of the event defending champion Andreas Seppi of Italy, who is seeded second, experienced few problems on his way to the quarter-finals, easing past compatriot Paolo Lorenzi 6-3, 6-2.
The 29-year-old will face journeyman Edouard Roger-Vasselin of France in the quarter-finals, after the latter beat Ukraine’s Sergiy Stakhovsky 7-5, 7-5.
However, there was an upset as third seed and 2011 champion Janko Tipsarevic lost in straight sets to Russian wild-card Karen Khachanov. The 17-year-old, who was playing just his fourth career ATP match, beat his Serbian opponent 6-4, 6-4.
Eighth-seeded Bojana Jovanovski of Serbia advanced to the quarter-finals of the Luxembourg Open by beating Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei 6-1, 6-4 on Wednesday.
Also, Andrea Petkovic of Germany came from behind to beat seventh-seeded Eugenie Bouchard of Canada 2-6, 7-5, 6-1 to reach the second round. Tereza Smitkova of the Czech Republic defeated Kristina Mladenovic of France 7-5, 6-1.
In the first round of the women’s doubles Polona Hercog of Slovenia and Lisa Raymond of the US beat Hsieh and her younger sister Hsieh Shu-ying 6-2, 6-7 (5/7), 10-7.
Additional reporting by staff writer
Sixth seed Gael Monfils fell victim to a 213th-ranked lucky loser on Wednesday as the Frenchman crashed to a 7-6 (7/0), 7-5 first-round defeat against Jaroslav Pospisil at the Austrian Open.
An out-of-sorts Monfils had no answer to his little-known opponent, who only got into the draw hours before the match when Australian Marinko Matosevic pulled out with a shoulder injury.
“I’m pissed, I didn’t come here to lose in the first round,” said Monfils, who admitted that he failed to make the quick turnaround required after arriving from Asia and working to adjust once again to Europe.
Czech fifth seed Radek Stepanek reached the quarter-finals after taking nearly two and three-quarter hours to defeat Lukas Lacko 7-6 (7/4), 5-7, 7-6 (7/5). Fellow Czech Lukas Rosol defeated Mirza Basic of Bosnia-Herzegovina 6-3, 7-5.
Third-seeded Jerzy Janowicz of Poland breezed into the Stockholm Open quarter-finals by beating Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain 6-2, 6-1 on Wednesday.
Benoit Paire of France defeated Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain 6-4, 6-4, and Jarkko Nieminen of Finland opened his title bid with a win against Benjamin Becker of Germany 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7/3).
Other first-round winners were Fernando Verdasco of Spain, and Kenny De Schepper of France.