Published July 17, 2009 10:29
PALERMO, Italy - Fans at the Internazionali Femminili di Tennis di Palermo will have plenty to cheer about on Saturday, as three of the final four competitors are Italian, the first time that has happened at a Sony Ericsson WTA Tour event since Bogotá in February 2007. None of the semifinalists have dropped a set all week, which should make for a competitive weekend.
On the top half of the draw Friday, top-seeded Flavia Pennetta handled seventh-seeded Aravane Rezai, 64 64. She also won their only other previous match-up, which happened to be in the first round of this event in 2007. Though never a champion here, Pennetta has enjoyed a good deal of success, having been a finalist in 2004 and semifinalist in 2005 and 2008.
Pennetta will next face fellow Italian Tathiana Garbin, a 62 61 winner over Olga Govortsova. Interestingly enough, at Bogotá in 2007, two of the three Italian semifinalists were Pennetta and Garbin, who have a 2-2 record against each other.
On the bottom half of the draw, defending champ Sara Errani continued to impress, as she recorded a 62 75 victory over Yaroslava Shvedova. The fifth-seeded Italian is now a remarkable 11-1 in main draw matches at this event, having made the semis in 2007 and again this year, in addition to her title last year. Trying to slow her down will be the only non-Italian left, Anna-Lena Groenefeld. The German was up, 4-3, on No.1 seed Patty Schnyder when the Swiss retired with a left hip flexor strain. It was Groenefeld's first victory in three career matches against her frequent doubles partner. She defeated her semifinal opponent, Errani, in their only previous match-up, in Miami earlier this year.