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Pennetta Pushed To Brink Of Defeat In Palermo

Flavia Pennetta was down 64 53 to Mathilde Johansson but survived to advance to the quarterfinals of the XXIV SNAI Open.

Published July 13, 2011 11:25

Pennetta Pushed To Brink Of Defeat In Palermo
Flavia Pennetta

PALERMO, Italy - No.1 seed Flavia Pennetta was dangerously close to being sent home from the XXIV SNAI Open several times on Wednesday by Mathilde Johansson, but rallied each time and now is into the quarterfinals of the event she won in 2009 and was runner-up at in 2004 and 2010.

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After dropping the final three games of the first set to lose it, 6-4, Pennetta was down 5-3 on Johansson's serve in the second. However, the Frenchwoman had three of her 13 double faults in that game, got broken and did not win another game that set. Nevertheless, she marched out to leads of 3-0 and 5-3 in the third set. Once again, though, Pennetta caught fire, reeling off eight straight points to tie it at 5-5. Both of the next two games went to deuce, but the Italian took them both to seal the almost three hour thriller, 46 75 75, her third victory in four career matches against Johansson.

Next up for Pennetta is the suddenly hot Tsvetana Pironkova, who after reaching the 2010 Wimbledon semifinals, did not get beyond the round of 16 at an event until she was a quarterfinalist at the All-England Club two weeks ago. Now, the sixth-seeded Bulgarian is in the quarters here as well after getting past Sorana Cirstea, 26 61 61.

Advancing by identical scores of 62 64 were No.7 seed Polona Hercog and No.8 seed Petra Cetkovska. Hercog, champion last week in Bastad, extended her career-best win streak to seven matches by beating Alberta Brianti. Cetkovska topped Akgul Amanmuradova to match her career-best results - quarterfinal showings at Fès and Birmingham in 2008 and Acapulco in 2009.

Thursday's schedule is highlighted by second-seeded Roberta Vinci taking on Irina-Camelia Begu in a rematch of last week's Budapest final won by Vinci in a tight three-setter.

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