Klara Clocks Marion
Published January 13, 2011 12:00
HOBART, Australia - It wasn't exactly a dazzling summer's day, but after two days with almost no play, the rain stopped long enough for the Moorilla Hobart International to get back on track on Thursday. Of course, most of the players who made it through to the semifinals had to win two matches in quick succession in order to get there.
Aussie wildcard and former Hobart champion Alicia Molik was first to fall as the second round matches were given an early start in the morning; she was beaten by No.7 seed Sara Errani 60 61 in less than an hour.
It was indeed a successful resumption for all of the seeds in action, with No.1 Marion Bartoli, No.4 Roberta Vinci, No.5 Klara Zakopalova and No. 8 Angelique Kerber all advancing to the quarterfinals. Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Peng Shuai joined them in the last eight by beating Ayumi Morita and Olga Govortsova respectively.
Sixth seed Jarmila Groth had been the only player to beat the deluge to make the quarters on Tuesday, and she continued her good form to dispatch Vinci, 61 62. Unseeded Peng followed suit, breezing past Errani, 61 63, to reach her second semi in as many weeks. Last week at Auckland the 25-year-old Chinese No.3 pushed Yanina Wickmayer to the limit, eventually falling 7-5 in the third set.
Later, Bethanie Mattek-Sands - another player on a roll after her Hopman Cup exploits - dispatched Kerber in straight sets, 64 64, to set a date with Peng.
But the real upset of the day, at least on paper, saw 42nd-ranked Zakopalova oust world No.17 Bartoli, 64 62. After her semifinal run in Brisbane last week, Bartoli had appeared to be the woman to beat in Tasmania. However, Zakopalova produced a near-flawless display to take her head-to-head against the Frenchwoman to 2-1.
"I'm very satisfied with the game I played today," said Zakopalova, who faces Groth in Friday's semis. "We are used to playing two matches in a day, so I was prepared for it."
For her part, Bartoli was philosophical. "She played unbelievable to be honest. I mean I'm used to playing against Top 10 players, and they barely can play like that," she said. "But overall I'm happy with my performance. I tried to do my best tonight and won two good matches against Safina and Vesnina.
"I feel like I've played the best tennis of my career so far. So it's good for me now to have a couple of days off before the Australian Open starts."