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Flipkens Issues Lesson, Reaches SFs

Dinara Safina battled through, but Kirsten Flipkens needed just 45 minutes to reach the semis in Fès on Friday.

Published April 22, 2011 05:35

Flipkens Issues Lesson, Reaches SFs
Kirsten Flipkens

FÈS, Morocco - Dinara Safina's resurgence continued at the Grand Prix de SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem on Friday, when the former world No.1 outlasted fellow Russian Anastasia Pivovarova in the quarterfinals. With the win, Safina is through to her first WTA semi since her runner-up finish at Cincinnati in 2009; she has now won nine of her last 12 matches, stretching back to the start of Indian Wells.

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Pivovarova was left to rue her chances: the younger Russian led 4-2 in the decider, only to see Safina claw her way back to 4-4. At that point a lengthy rain delay ensued, and when the players finally returned to court, Safina's experience helped her to efficiently close it out, 64 26 64.

Earlier, No.7 seed Simona Halep - runner-up here 12 months ago - won through to the semis with a 62 minute defeat of No.4 seed Greta Arn, 62 61. Up next for the 19-year-old Romanian is Belgium's Kirsten Flipkens, who never let Moroccan wildcard Nadia Lalami find any rhythm in her first WTA quarterfinal. Flipkens won the first 11 games, and although Lalami finally got on the scoreboard with an ace down 60 50, her fate was sealed moments later, 60 61.

The last to book her place in the final four was Italian veteran Alberta Brianti, who survived a second set fightback by Melanie Oudin, 75 57 60.

As well as winning the second set, Oudin almost won the first. Having retrieved a break to level at 4-4, the American teenager held a set point at 5-4 on Brianti's serve. Yet the 31-year-old held on to level at 5-5, broke her opponent for 6-5 and didn't flinch when Oudin had a chance in the next game to break back and force a tie-break.

Oudin also fought gamely from 4-2 down in the second set, winning three games straight and holding set point at 5-4 on her opponent's delivery. But although she would finally level proceedings two games later, on her fourth set point, a remarkable shift in momentum was to occur. Brianti broke serve in the first game of the decider and didn't lose another game, securing her place in the semis after 2 hours 45 minutes of play.

Brianti and Safina have played once before, also in a semifinal, with Safina winning on the hardcourts at Portoroz in 2009. Halep beat Flipkens in qualifying at Tokyo last year, their only previous meeting.

The first of the doubles semifinals was also played on Friday. Top seeds Andrea Hlavackova and Renata Voracova advanced to the final when they beat fourth seeds Mervana Jugic-Salkic and Darija Jurak, 63 75.

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