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Victoria's Victory Streak Reaches Nine

Victoria Azarenka is into the Marbella semifinals after a back injury forced Dinara Safina to retire from their match.

Published April 08, 2011 05:12

Victoria's Victory Streak Reaches Nine
Sara Errani

MARBELLA, Spain - Victoria Azarenka's hot streak continued at the Andalucía Tennis Experience, though not in the fashion she would prefer, as she advanced to the semifinals when Dinara Safina retired with a low back injury while trailing 5-1 in the first set.

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"I feel terrible to win that way, especially against Dinara," said the top-seeded Azarenka, who has not dropped more than three games in a set all week. "She's been struggling with injuries for quite a while. I can't help but feel really bad for her. I just wish her the quickest recovery possible and hope she can play as soon as possible. It's a shame because she just started to play so much better and I was really happy for her, but it's part of the game."

Safina has been plagued with back issues for a couple of years now, but seemed to have overcome them recently, as she reached the round of 16 in Indian Wells, took world No.3 Vera Zvonareva to three sets in the second round in Miami and was into her first quarterfinal since September here in Marbella.

"It was a sad end to the week. I was playing well," Safina said. "I had another problem with my back. I started to feel a pain similar to the one I used to have. I was very afraid, so I am going to have an MRI and see what that shows. I hope it's nothing serious and that it's just my fear, but I want to double check. It's not as strong a pain as before, but I have a similar sensation."

As for Azarenka, her winning streak is up to nine - six victories en route to the title in Miami and three here - tied for her longest ever. She will try to make it 10 when she takes on No.8 seed Sara Errani, a 62 62 victor over No.4 seed Alexandra Dulgheru.

"I played very well. I was glad to finish quickly, since it was a hot day," said Errani, who also reached the semifinals here last year. "I had lost to her three previous times, so I had to stay focused, as I knew that at any moment she could come back because she is so strong."

On the bottom half of the draw, second-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova finally had a comfortable win after three-setters in her first two matches in Marbella, dispatching qualifier Lara Arruabarrena-Vecino, 61 62. Next up for her is another qualifier, Irina-Camelia Begu. The 20-year-old Romanian had never won a main draw match before this week, yet remarkably is into the semifinals after three straight set qualifying wins and three straight set main draw wins, the latest being Friday's 63 63 defeat of sixth-seeded Klara Zakopalova.

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