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First Semi For Evgeniya

Three Russians are through to the last four in Tashkent, including Evgeniya Rodina.

Published September 23, 2010 12:00

First Semi For Evgeniya
Evgeniya Rodina

TASHKENT, Uzbekistan - Three Russians will contest the semifinals of the $220,000 Tashkent Open on Friday, along with a Romanian, Monica Niculescu, who prevailed in a marathon encounter with her top-seeded compatriot, Alexandra Dulgheru.

World No.81 Niculescu, the International-level event's No.5 seed and twice a losing quarterfinalist here, put aside painful blisters to dispatch her 27th-ranked countrywoman in 2 hours 41 minutes, 75(5) 26 63.

Dulgheru and Niculescu traded three breaks in the first set to force the tie-break, which Niculescu pocketed on her sixth set point. Two breaks of serve enabled Dulgheru to capture the second set, but Niculescu recovered the momentum, booking her first Tour semifinal with a winner from her unorthodox two-handed forehand.

"My blisters are getting worse every day, but my game is getting better," said Niculescu, who celebrates her 23rd birthday on Saturday. "This was the first time that I have beaten Dulgheru, as well as a Top 50 player. It is the biggest win of my career."

It was a banner day for Evgeniya Rodina too, the 21-year-old world No.109 advancing to her first Tour semifinal with a 64 46 60 defeat of Switzerland's Stefanie Voegele.

Next up for Rodina is seventh seed Alla Kudryavtseva, runner-up to Jarmila Groth at Guangzhou last week, who scored a 76(5) 63 win over second seed and local favorite Akgul Amanmuradova.

Amanmuradova led 3-0 in the first set, and 5-3 in the ensuing tie-break, but Kudryavtseva saved a set point and cruised in the second set.

"Akgul is a close friend of mine, but I kept these things away today," said Kudryavtseva. "I'm thrilled to continue my form from Guangzhou last week and reach the semifinals here."

Fourth seed Elena Vesnina blitzed Darya Kustova of Belarus in 48 minutes, 60 61, to set up a showdown with Niculescu.

In the doubles semis, Maria Kondratieva and Sophie Lefèvre play Alexandra Panova and Tatiana Poutchek, while Niculescu and Jill Craybas tackle Dulgheru and Magdalena Rybarikova.

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