Marion Sweeps Into Strasbourg SFs
Published May 19, 2011 02:32
STRASBOURG, France - Marion Bartoli won through to her first red clay semifinal in four years on Thursday, beating Lucie Hradecka to advance to the last four of the Internationaux de Strasbourg. Standing between the top seed and her first clay final since Prague in 2007 is No.7 seed Anabel Medina Garrigues, a three-time champion here on the banks of the Rhine.
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Medina Garrigues was the first to book her spot, ending the run of resurgent Mirjana Lucic. Croatian Lucic, 29, was contesting her first WTA quarterfinal since she went all the way to the semis at Wimbledon in 1999. But, having come through qualifying at this tournament she finally ran out of steam against the rock-solid Spaniard, 64 64
In eight visits to Strasbourg, Medina Garrigues has now reached at least the semifinals on six occasions. As well as lifting the trophy three times - most recently in 2008, when she beat Katarina Srebotnik in the final - she has fallen in the semis three times, including last year, to eventual champion Maria Sharapova.
For her part Bartoli, who was neatly aided by six aces in her 62 63 defeat of Hradecka, is through to the semis at Strasbourg for the second time. Amélie Mauresmo was her conqueror here in 2007, with the French great duly upset by Medina Garrigues in the final. Bartoli boasts a 5-2 record over Medina Garrigues, but the Spanish player has prevailed both times they've met on clay - including just last week in the third round at Rome.
The other semifinal pits No.2 seed Andrea Petkovic against No.6 seed Daniela Hantuchova, after they scored respective wins over No.5 seed Maria Kirilenko and No.4 seed Nadia Petrova.
Hantuchova was particularly clean on serve, successfully fending off the sole break point faced; though she converted just three of 10 chances held against her fellow 28-year-old, this proved more than enough to clinch a 64 62 victory.
Until last year, when she prevailed at Miami, 28-year-old Hantuchova had not beaten Petrova since the second round at Strasbourg in 2000. She has now won her last two meetings with the Russian, improving her record against her contemporary to 3-4.
In the semis, 30th-ranked Hantuchova and world No.15 Petkovic - who dispatched Kirilenko 64 63.
"I think I played better in my last two matches, but I stayed calm and I played very well in the important moments, and that's what counts," said Petkovic. "Maria doesn't really allow you to play well because she changes up the rhythm. I respect her a lot as a player, so I'm even more thrilled to be through."
Hantuchova and Petkovic will be meeting for the second time. Their previous meeting took place in the quarterfinals at Brisbane at the start of 2010, when a 55th-ranked Petkovic won in straight sets. "Last time I played Daniela was on a hard court," the German observed. "She plays very, very clever tennis. I'm just going to try to prepare very well and play a good match tomorrow."
On Friday, doubles No.2 seeds Natalie Grandin and Vladimira Uhlirova play Melanie Oudin and Zhang Shuai for a place in the final. The day's schedule also features on-court celebrations to mark the 25th anniversary of the $220,000 International event.