Zvonareva Into QFs, Azarenka & Bartoli Too
Published September 28, 2011 12:00
TOKYO, Japan - Vera Zvonareva stormed into her 12th WTA quarterfinal of the year on Wednesday, beating Iveta Benesova in straight sets for a spot in the final eight of the Premier-level Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo.
Zvonareva, the No.4 seed, had struggled with Benesova on clay before but had won their two previous hardcourt meetings easily, and this one was no different, as the Russian reeled off five straight games from 1-all in the first set and another five games from 1-2 in the second set to put her in checkmate, 61 62.
With a dozen quarterfinals, one would think Zvonareva was having one of her best seasons yet, but she has in fact tallied up more WTA quarterfinals in three of her other seasons, namely 2003 (13), 2004 (14) and 2008 (15). With scheduled stops coming in Beijing and Moscow, and possibly Istanbul, the Russian could equal but not surpass her personal best by year's end.
Next for Zvonareva will be Maria Kirilenko, who followed her second round upset of No.6 seed Samantha Stosur with a third round upset over No.12 seed Ana Ivanovic. Ivanovic, who had hit 11 aces in her previous round, had only two this time and Kirilenko pounced, breaking four times en route to a 63 61 win.
Zvonareva has beaten Kirilenko in all five of their previous meetings, but Kirilenko has pushed the last two to three sets - and she was a game away from winning in Cincinnati last year, leading 5-2 third set before falling.
Also setting up a quarterfinal clash earlier in the day were No.3 seed Victoria Azarenka and No.7 seed Marion Bartoli. Bartoli was the first of the two to advance, breaking serve six times en route to a 62 61 win over No.10 seed Peng Shuai; it was her second straight match playing against another player with two hands on both sides, having beaten Ayumi Morita two days ago.
"It's very funny, it's kind of like seeing myself playing on the other side of the net," Bartoli said. "With Peng Shuai in the Top 15 and me in the Top 10, it's great to have two Monica Seles style players ranked so high on the WTA."
Bartoli has also been very happy about another thing this week. "I've been drinking apple crumble ice lattes from Starbucks. I'm just going to have one more today. Yesterday I had three in a row... today I'm looking for five in a row!"
Azarenka followed with a 63 75 victory over Klara Zakopalova, rallying from 0-3 in the first set and 2-4 in the second set to put the Czech away in straights.
Azarenka leads Bartoli in their head-to-head, 6-1. Azarenka won their first six meetings but in their only 2011 meeting it was Bartoli who prevailed - by retirement, 62 20 - in the quarterfinals of Eastbourne in June.
"Against Vika it's always extremely tough. She plays very well from the baseline and is in the Top 5 now," Bartoli said. "What's going to help me is we played in Eastbourne and I won, although she had to retire in the second set - but in the first set I was playing well and doing damage to her, and in our other matches I wasn't. We'll see how it goes. I'm very happy to be in the quarterfinals."