Timea Crashes Seeds' Party

The favorites held sway in the quarterfinals of the ECM Prague Open on Friday - almost.

Published July 17, 2009 07:21

Timea Crashes Seeds' Party
Timea Bacsinszky

PRAGUE, Czech Republic - For much of Friday it looked as though the top four seeds would reach the semifinals of the ECM Prague Open - a surprisingly rare feat on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. Indeed, the only time it has happened so far this season was at Wimbledon a few weeks ago. But, in the last quarterfinal match in the Czech capital, Swiss qualifier Timea Bacsinszky spoiled the party with her straight-sets dispatch of No.4 seed Carla Suárez Navarro.

First safely through though was No.2 seed Sybille Bammer, but the 29-year-old lefty had to toil for nearly three hours to quash the double-fisted challenge of hometown favorite and seventh seed Lucie Hradecka, 75 57 75.

Then, after a competitive opening set, third-seeded Iveta Benesova asserted her authority over 15-year-old wildcard Zarina Diyas, who was playing her first quarterfinal in what also marked her debut week on the Tour. Benesova prevailed over the Prague-based Kazakh, 64 61.

Later, top seed Francesca Schiavone's renaissance continued with a comprehensive 61 61 win over Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine.

Saturday's semifinals pit Bammer and Benesova against each other for the fourth time, but first in over three years, with the Austrian holding a 2-1 advantage. The match represents the fourth semifinal of Benesova's season (she went on to finish runner-up at Hobart) while Bammer hasn't contested a semi since Stanford almost two years ago.

Schiavone, who plays Bacsinszky, is through to her third semifinal of the year, having also reached the last four on clay at Barcelona and grass at 's-Hertogenbosch. She is gunning for her first final since she went all the way to her sole Tour singles title at Bad Gastein in 2007.

For her part, 20-year-old Bacsinszky, a former world No.48 currently languishing just outside the Top 100 after a season marred by left knee troubles and other injuries, will be playing the third semifinal of her career, after Antwerp and Strasbourg in 2008. She advanced Friday courtesy of early breaks in each set against her Spanish opponent, holding on for a 64 64 victory.

Bacsinszky and Schiavone share a win apiece, although the Swiss player benefited from a second set retirement by the Italian at Zürich in 2006.

In a see-saw all-Czech semifinal, doubles top seeds Benesova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova recovered from a slow start to edge No.3 seeds Hradecka and Andrea Hlavackova in a match tie-break, 16 61 1210. Their opponents in the final will be the second-seeded Bondarenko sisters, who beat Magdalena Rybarikova and Renata Voracova in their semi.

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