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María José Finding Her Momentum

María José Martínez Sánchez was a happy winner at Bastad on Wednesday.

Published July 06, 2011 05:13

María José Finding Her Momentum
Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez
BASTAD, Sweden - Former champions went 1-1 at the Collector Swedish Open on Wednesday, with María José Martínez Sánchez dispatching fellow Spaniard Nuria Llagostera Vives, but Aravane Rezai falling to Polona Hercog in three. The host nation's top two players also won through to the quarters, one of them at the expense of Caroline Wozniacki.

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Rezai, who beat Gisela Dulko in the final at Bastad 12 months ago, was certainly left to rue her chances. In the first set the 24-year-old Frenchwoman faced three break points but saved them all, her successful conversion of one of four break opportunities proving enough to secure the opener.

Although Hercog's slice helped the 20-year-old Slovene level at one set all, it was Rezai who was first to hold match point in the decider, on serve at 6-5. But Hercog broke back to force a tie-break and ran out the winner, 36 64 76(4).

"It's a good win for me," said Hercog. "She's a very tough opponent to play - she really hits the ball very hard and doesn't give you a lot of rhythm. I just managed to stay there all the match, and at the end it paid off."

Meantime, Martínez Sánchez had to face a different kind of challenge: playing a compatriot and oftentimes doubles partner. The 28-year-old Spaniard, who was prevented by a wrist injury from defending her title last year, found herself down a break in the first set against Llagostera Vives. However, from 4-5 she reeled off nine of 10 games to advance, 75 61.

"This year has been much better injury-wise," said 62nd-ranked Martínez Sánchez, who has now won back-to-back tour matches twice this year, having managed it at Wimbledon. "I had some tough draws at the big tournaments at the start of the year, so it's good for me to play some International events, where I can have a better chance to win matches and gain confidence."

In her first quarterfinal of the season Martínez Sánchez faces Swedish No.2 Sofia Arvidsson, who lost the first set to top seeded Wozniacki but advanced when the Danish world No.1 retired with a shoulder strain, the score at 26 10. Earlier, Sweden's No.1, Johanna Larsson, had beaten fifth seed Vera Dushevina, 67(4) 62 62; her next opponent will be fourth seed Lourdes Domínguez Lino, who ousted Arantxa Parra Santonja, 75 61.

The other quarterfinal berths were snapped up by No.2 seed Flavia Pennetta, who defeated Angelique Kerber, 62 63; Vesna Dolonts, who set a date with Hercog by beating Sorana Cirstea, 63 63; and seventh seeded Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, who was pushed the distance by Anastasiya Yakimova, 75 46 63. The Czech faces Pennetta in the last eight.

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