Zvonareva Into Final, Radwanska Up Next
Published August 06, 2011 12:00
CARLSBAD, CA, USA - Four WTA stars took the courts of the La Costa Resort & Spa on Saturday for the semifinals of the Mercury Insurance Open, and they all battled to the bitter end for berths in the final of the Premier tournament. Vera Zvonareva and Agnieszka Radwanska were able to make the cut.
Radwanska was the first to win, losing the first set then winning 10 games in a row and not really looking back for a 46 60 64 victory over Andrea Petkovic. Radwanska, the No.3 seed, stormed through the second set at love and built a 4-0 lead in the third set, and although the No.2-seeded Petkovic caught up to 4-3, Radwanska was still up a break and held on, closing it out three games later.
"When I lost the first set I just thought I had nothing to lose. So I was more relaxed," Radwanska said. "She was playing well and it was the semifinals, so I was just going to play until the end and fight until the last point. I started playing more aggressively and without mistakes. She was playing incredible in the third set again but I had a couple good shots. It was close in the end."
Feeling ill, Petkovic left the court during the second set. Once she got her intensity back in the third set she made a push, but it was too late. "I'm not that big of a lady normally, but I didn't want to do it in front of the whole crowd. It's just gross so I figured it's better to run off the court," Petkovic said. "I felt much, much better. I lost some intensity after the incident, but I felt so much better.
"I ate something wrong for lunch. I originally thought it was just a lack of energy, so I took a banana and thought it was going to get better, but actually it felt much worse. I needed five, six, seven games afterwards; maybe one game earlier and I could have turned the match around. I'm still disappointed."
Radwanska is now through to her first final since this same tournament a year ago, where she was a runner-up to Svetlana Kuznetsova. It will be her seventh overall WTA final (she has a 4-2 record in her first six WTA finals).
"This is the only tournament I've been two times in the final, so for sure it's one of my best tournaments," the 22-year-old said. "I haven't won a title since 2008. I've been in some quarterfinals, semifinals and finals, but of course it's good to have a title. So for sure I'm going to do everything I can tomorrow to win."
There was a similar pattern in the second semi, as No.1 seed Zvonareva rallied from a set down and held off a late surge from No.5 seed Ana Ivanovic to prevail, 57 64 64. After squandering a 5-3 lead to lose the first set, Zvonareva rebounded to win the second set then went ahead 5-1 in the third; Ivanovic reeled off three games in a row to close to 5-4, but Zvonareva served it out at 15.
"I've been working on a few things and I knew I had to keep trying them," Zvonareva said. "They didn't work in the first set but they slowly started working.
"There's nothing wrong with winning or losing the first or second set. You're still in the match. And while you're still in the match, you have chances to turn it around. When you shake hands at the end, that's when the match is over."
Ivanovic was very gracious afterwards. "She chases a lot of balls down - you have to win the point over and over again. She also came up with some great shots, especially backhands down the line. It was very hard to pick where she was going. To play that close with a Top 3 player is a good place to be."
Zvonareva is now 9-0 in the summer hardcourt season, going 5-0 to win in Baku and 4-0 so far this week. "If you look at the results, it's a pretty good start to the hardcourt season," the 26-year-old said. "I have a lot of tournaments ahead though. We'll see how it goes. So far I think I'm playing pretty well. I'm enjoying my time on the court and off the court, and I'm working hard every day."
Zvonareva is in her 29th WTA final, going 12-16 in her first 28. She is 2-0 in finals this year, winning the Premier title in Doha and the International in Baku.
"Vera is obviously a top player right now, and she's playing some good tennis," Radwanska said. "Playing against top players, you just have to do 100% and be focused from the beginning. I'll just play my game and take it point by point."