Larsson Into Semifinals, Top 3 Seeds Ousted

Swedish No.1 Johanna Larsson reached her second WTA semifinal of the year at the Estoril Open.

Published April 28, 2011 12:00

Larsson Into Semifinals, Top 3 Seeds Ousted
Johanna Larsson

ESTORIL, Portugal - While most eyes were on the struggles of the Top 3 seeds, Johanna Larsson and Alla Kudryavtseva were duking it out in an all-unseeded battle. And it was Swedish No.1 Larsson who came out on top, moving into the semifinals of the $220,000 Estoril Open with a 62 75 victory.

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Larsson, who had won her only prior meeting with Kudryavtseva four years ago, stormed through the opening set but seemed to be headed for a third set as Kudryavtseva built a 5-4 lead in the second; she found her range again however, winning three games in a row (and 12 of 13 points) to seal it in straight sets.

"I've always loved playing on clay. My best results have always come on hardcourt but now it's changing a little bit," said Larsson, whose only other semifinal this year came in Acapulco. "It doesn't really matter to me what surface the results are coming on though - I'm just happy they are coming!

"At the start I was playing too short but she was missing a lot, maybe three or four unforced errors every game, so it didn't really matter. In the second set she slowed down so I had to play more shots, but in the end it was all good."

At No.80, Larsson is one of only two Swedes in the Top 500 (Sofia Arvidsson is No.89). But the 22-year-old has more tennis-playing compatriots nearby.

"I wouldn't say we are good friends because he's a little bit older than me, but every time Robin and I see each other we say hey, and good luck," Larsson said of Robin Soderling, No.5 on the ATP World Tour and the top seed in the men's event in Estoril. "I was working a few years with his fitness coach too."

Larsson has also been working with Joachim Johansson, a former Top 10 men's player who recently retired from the sport. "The coach I had just had a baby so now I'm trying to find a bit of another solution. Pim-Pim Johansson was ending his own career and said he wanted to help me. We met up before I came here and practiced for two days. We'll also practice after I come home from here."

And on her first time playing the Estoril Open? "It's my first time here but I played Fed Cup indoors just next door. At that time I really liked it here and this week it's the same. It's a really nice tournament - the courts, the organization. The only thing is the security, they don't let you in everywhere!"

All of the Top 3 seeds lost, beginning with No.1 seed Alisa Kleybanova, who led Kristina Barrois 4-1 in the first set before losing 11 of 13 games and the match, 64 62. No.3 seed Klara Zakopalova followed with a 63 75 loss to Anabel Medina Garrigues, missing out on a 5-3 second set lead; and No.2 seed Jarmila Gajdosova led Monica Niculescu 75 42 but lost, 57 64 62.

Medina Garrigues beat Zakopalova for the fifth time in their last six meetings. "I always enjoy playing here," the former Top 20 player commented. "People say it's very windy but I've played here two years now and I haven't felt that. I'm really happy to make my second semifinal of the year at this tournament."

Niculescu is now in the second WTA semifinal of her career. "I'm happy with how I played today. I think I showed some good tennis. When I was 4-2 down I said, 'Whatever, it doesn't matter, just hit the ball.' I was a little bit lucky to come back but you need a little bit of luck to win a match, so I'm very happy.

"I didn't even know she was the No.2 seed. I knew she won a title this year and was very good. I knew I'd have to run a lot because she hits so hard!"

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