Dynamic Diyas Reaches Quarters
Published July 16, 2009 07:30
PRAGUE, Czech Republic - When Czech No.1 Iveta Benesova woke up on Thursday morning, she might well have expected that both she and her friend Petra Kvitova would win their respective second round matches at the ECM Prague Open, thereby setting up a meeting in Friday's quarterfinals. But, while the left-handed No.3 seed edged crafty Monica Niculescu in just over two hours to make the date, her next opponent will be a 15-year-old surprise packet making her debut on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour.
Eighth-seeded Kvitova, who beat her older compatriot in the final at Hobart in January, was stunned by teenager Zarina Diyas - who was born in Almaty, Kazakhstan but is based in Prague, which helps explain the wildcard she was awarded this week.
Diyas, making her Tour main draw debut and ranked No.295 in the world, justified the faith of tournament organizers when she beat fellow junior and qualifier Kristina Mladenovic quite handily in the first round. But despite a string of strong results on the ITF Circuit in recent months, there was no reason to suspect she would dismantle the world No.63 with such aplomb, 64 62.
In the first match of the day, Kateryna Bondarenko, who upset her sixth-seeded sister Alona in the first round, beat Germany's Kristina Barrois in straight sets, 75 75. Barrois threatened to force the match to a decider when she broke late in the second set, but the Ukrainian surged to book a first showdown with top seed Francesca Schiavone on Friday.
Schiavone won her second round match on Wednesday, as did No.2 seed Sybille Bammer, No.4 seed Carla Suárez Navarro and seventh-seeded Lucie Hradecka. Bammer and Hradecka face off in the quarters, while Suárez Navarro plays Timea Bacsinsky, who won a Swiss derby against the less-experienced but higher-ranked Stefanie Voegele on Thursday evening, 64 61.
Local fans won't know who to cheer in the doubles semis, after top-seeded Benesova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova beat Kvitova and Nicole Vaidisova to set up a match against No.3 seeds Hradecka and Andrea Hlavackova. The other semi pits the second-seeded Bondarenko sisters against Slovakia's Magdalena Rybarikova and another Czech, Renata Voracova.