Rybarikova Powers Past Wozniacki in Pattaya City
Published February 13, 2009 12:00
PATTAYA CITY, Thailand - World No.51 Magdalena Rybarikova moved into her second semi of the year with a 64 61 upset of No.2 seed Caroline Wozniacki at the PTT Pattaya Open on Friday. In the last four the eighth-seeded Slovak faces unseeded Sania Mirza. In the top half of the draw at the International series event, No.1 seed Vera Zvonareva takes on 2006 Pattaya champion Shahar Peer, after both also won their quarterfinal matches.
Denmark's Wozniacki had been stretched by Australian Open junior champion Ksenia Pervak in the second round on Thursday night, which was all the encouragement 20-year-old Rybarikova needed, firing a forehand winner down the line to break in the Dane in the opening game.
Wozniacki, currently ranked No.12 in the world, failed to convert any of four break points in the subsequent game, and then had to fight off two break points at 3-1 and another at 4-2 as Rybarikova continued to apply pressure with well-timed attacking play. Three aces gave the No.8 seed a 5-3 lead, and after securing the first set two games later Rybarikova broke again at the beginning of the second. A netted Danish forehand saw Rybarikova break again for 4-1, and she tied up the match with a further break when an increasingly frustrated Wozniacki made a backhand error.
"This year is very good for me because I worked hard," said Rybarikova, who defeated world No.13 Flavia Pennetta - her first Top 30 win - on her way to the Hobart semis in January.
"I'm very happy to be in the semifinal here because I beat a very good player," she added. "I played very aggressive and my serve was very good, and also my volleys. It was very important to serve well because she has good returns. I think it was my best play this year."
For her part, a disappointed Wozniacki admitted to being tired after her match against Pervak, but gave credit to her vanquisher.
"I didn't really feel the ball today, and she was serving really well and I couldn't really get the returns and I just felt that anything I was doing wasn't really going my way," she said. "It just didn't work out the way I wanted it to."
Rybarikova's next opponent, Indian star Mirza, advanced at the expense of home favorite and sixth seed Tamarine Tanasugarn. Ranked a lowly No.126, Mirza, who heralded her comeback from injury by winning the Australian Open mixed title with Mahesh Bhupathi two weeks ago, was broken at love by the Thai veteran when serving for the match, but held on to win, 75 64. The 22-year-old advances to her first semifinal since she made it all the way to the title match at Stanford in 2007; she also reached the final four at Pattaya two years ago.
Earlier in the day, Zvonareva was little troubled by Chinese fifth seed Peng Shuai, prevailing 62 63, but seventh-seeded Peer toiled for more than two hours to down Vera Dushevina, 64 46 62. Her upcoming match against Zvonareva will be the 21-year-old Israeli's first semifinal since reaching the last four at Memphis 12 months ago, and with five career Top 10 wins to her credit she'll be trying to improve on a 0-4 head-to-head record against the Russian world No.5.
In a doubles semifinal set for Saturday, second seeds Tanasugarn and Yaroslava Shvedova play third seeds Mirza and Mara Santangelo, with the winner to face Yuliya Beygelzimer and Vitalia Diatchenko in Sunday's final. The unseeded Ukrainian-Russian duo upset top seeds Akgul Amanmuradova and Chuang Chia-Jung in a semifinal played on Friday.