Martic's Second Shot, Wozniacki Crushing
Published June 10, 2011 12:00
COPENHAGEN, Denmark - In February this year she reached her first WTA semifinal on the clay courts of Bogotá, but after coming down with a GI illness had to withdraw before her match. Now after a very hard-fought quarterfinal win over Alona Bondarenko, 20-year-old Croatian rising star Petra Martic has another shot at her first WTA final at the e-Boks Sony Ericsson Open.
Martic, who survived a dramatic second round match against fellow young star Simona Halep the day before, fought another two hours to get past former Top 20 player Bondarenko in the first match of the Friday schedule, 64 46 63.
"We both made a few unforced errors and struggled with our rhythm, but I think I played a little bit better in the important points, the break points. It made a difference," Martic said. "When I came to this tournament I had been struggling with my confidence, but I like playing indoors. I'll just try to enjoy the semifinal."
At No.112, Martic is one of two Croatian players in the Top 150, after No.94-ranked Mirjana Lucic, who was a quarterfinalist in the other WTA stop this week, at the AEGON Classic over on the grass courts of Birmingham.
Next up for Martic will be the No.38-ranked, No.4 seeded Lucie Safarova, who needed four match points to close out feisty young Chinese player Zhang Shuai in another one of the day's early matches, 46 60 76(5). The Czech has come back from a set down in all three of her wins this tournament.
"Somehow I cannot win the first set!" Safarova joked afterwards. "I have not been able to start my engine quickly enough this week, and that's something I'll have to improve going forward. Especially for tomorrow. Petra is a very good player."
Later in the day the No.1 and No.3 seeds both took Centre Court but only one was able to advance, as German qualifier Mona Barthel continued her surprising run through the draw with a 16 63 64 win over third-seeded Bethanie Mattek-Sands, coming back from a set and a break down to push it to a third then finishing strong, winning the last two games of the match at love.
"In the first set Bethanie played incredibly well. I had no chance," Barthel said. "I just tried to stay calm and tried to believe that one or two balls could change the match. She started giving me a few errors in the second and third sets."
While Barthel has collected her first two wins over Top 50 players this week - she also upset No.5 seed Barbora Zahlavova Strycova - she will have a tough task ahead of her in the world's No.1 player, Caroline Wozniacki. After a very tough second round match Wozniacki was in top form on Friday, crushing No.8 seed Alberta Brianti in just 55 minutes, 60 61. She won the first nine games.
"I played really, really well today," Wozniacki said. "I was aggressive, came to the net and served well. The crowd was amazing and really helped me."
Asked about her first WTA semifinal, Barthel was excited. "I didn't even expect to be in the semifinals, and playing a No.1 is what every player wants, so I'm excited and have nothing to lose. I want to enjoy the match tomorrow."
Wozniacki and Barthel share the same birthdate: July 11, 1990.