Daniela Does It Again
Published May 18, 2011 05:04
STRASBOURG, France - In 2000, a 17-year-old Slovak talent by the name of Daniela Hantuchova won her way through qualifying at the Internationaux de Strasbourg and, ranked No.182, made it all the way to what was the first WTA quarterfinal appearance of her career. Eleven years later, the former world No.5 has returned to the event for the first time - and, as the No.6 seed, she's through to the last eight once again.
Watch Strasbourg & Brussels on WTA Live powered by TennisTV!
Hantuchova's second round victim on Wednesday was France's own Mathilde Johansson, who began gamely enough by breaking serve in the second game of the match. But Hantuchova broke right back, winning four games in a row for a commanding lead. Although she needed two service attempts to close out the opener, and also dropped her delivery in the first game of the second set, the 28-year-old's class told, 64 62.
"I didn't have much time to get used to the conditions before my first match, but today I felt much better on court," Hantuchova said. "Today was very hot and very fast, but that's how it's going to be in Paris. I'm really glad to be playing here because I think it's a perfect preparation for next week."
Reflecting on the decade or so since her last visit to the Rhine-side city, she added: "I was here, what, 11 years ago. My mom and I remembered the city being so beautiful and the people being so nice to us. So we thought, we haven't been here for such a long time, it would be great to come back. I'm really glad we made this decision because we're having a great time."
Ironically, the player Hantuchova meets for a place in the semis is the very same opponent she beat to reach the quarters all those years ago: Nadia Petrova.
On Wednesday, Petrova, seeded fourth, lost the first set to fellow wildcard Alizé Cornet but prevailed, 26 62 62. Her fellow Russian, fifth-seeded Maria Kirilenko, was also pushed the distance. She recovered a 3-1 final set deficit to edge Spain's Laura Pous-Tio, 63 36 76(5).
But for the rest of the favorites - seven of eight seeds have made their appointed slots in the quarters - life was easier.
No.2 seed Andrea Petkovic moved past Zhang Shuai, 61 63; three-time champion Anabel Medina Garrigues, the No.7 seed, breezed past Bojana Jovanovski, 62 60; and No.8 Lucie Hradecka, the only seed still hunting her first WTA singles title, beat French qualifier Stéphanie Foretz Gacon, 62 64.
Top seed Marion Bartoli received a walkover from British No.1 Elena Baltacha, who withdrew due to a right lumbar spine injury suffered in practice. More satisfying, no doubt, was Croatian qualifier Mirjana Lucic's 62 62 defeat of Jelena Dokic: the win put the 29-year-old through to her first WTA quarterfinal since Wimbledon in 1999.