All-Swedish SF Showdown Set In Bastad
Published July 07, 2011 05:54
BASTAD, Sweden - On Thursday, two Swedes contested the quarterfinals of the same WTA event for the first time since 1991. Courtesy of their respective wins, Johanna Larsson, the nation's No.1, and Sofia Arvidsson, its No.2, will now meet in the semis of the Collector Swedish Open. It will be the first time two women from the Scandinavian country have met in a WTA semi, and indeed the first time two have made the last four at the same tournament.
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World No.65 Larsson recovered an early break to win the first set against fourth seed Lourdes Domínguez Lino, helped by a four-game streak from 1-3. But Domínguez Lino again made the better start in the second set, breaking for 2-0; although Larsson made it 2-2, the Spanish veteran regained the momentum to level at a set apiece.
Domínguez Lino carried the momentum into the decider, breaking the 22-year-old Swede in the first game and holding the advantage for 5-3. However, Larsson embarked on another four-game tear, breaking the Spaniard as she served for the match at 5-4, and again to close it out, 64 36 75.
If anything, 73rd-ranked Arvidsson's passage to the final four was even tougher: she toiled for over three hours to suppress 2009 champion María José Martínez Sánchez, 46 76(6) 76(3).
It might have been easier: the 27-year-old led 4-2 in the first set before Martínez Sánchez hit her stride; the Swede also led 3-1 in the second, finally winning it in the tie-break - but only after squandering a five points to one lead and saving a match point for Martínez Sánchez at 6-5.
By contrast, the decider, while no less tight, was much less dramatic as both players held serve throughout to force the breaker. This time Arvidsson started the better and held her advantage to reach the first red clay semi of her career.
Larsson and Arvidsson, who both live on the Swedish coast near Bastad and often practice together, have met on seven occasions at the WTA and ITF level. Arvidsson leads their head-to-head 4-3, though Larsson - who overtook her older compatriot as the nation's No.1 in the spring - has won their last two meetings. Larsson will be contesting her third clay court semi of the season.
The other semifinal sees No.7 seed Barbora Zahlavova Strycova take on eighth seed Polona Hercog. Hercog, the second round conqueror of defending champion Aravane Rezai, beat Vesna Dolonts to book her place in the last four, 62 64.
For her part, Zahlavova Strycova went close to dispatching No.2 seed Flavia Pennetta in straight sets, but had to recover an early break in the third before posting her upset, 64 57 63.
"I'm an emotional player, so I get a bit angry sometimes," said Zahlavova Strycova. "But I try to keep it cool as much as I can! I was down 3-1 in the third set and making too many unforced errors, but I said to myself I had to be patient and hang in there and that's what I did."
Hercog is 2-0 against the Czech.