Zvonareva Makes SFs, Azarenka Wins Too

Vera Zvonareva improved to 6-0 against Maria Kirilenko with a 63 63 quarterfinal win in Tokyo.

Published September 29, 2011 12:00

Zvonareva Makes SFs, Azarenka Wins Too
Vera Zvonareva

TOKYO, Japan - The first two quarterfinals of the Toray Pan Pacific Open went to form, with Vera Zvonareva continuing her mastery of Maria Kirilenko and Victoria Azarenka doing the very same against Marion Bartoli.

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The No.4-seeded Zvonareva was the first to move through to the semifinals, improving to 6-0 lifetime against Kirilenko with a 63 63 win. Zvonareva cracked open the match at 2-3, winning seven straight games to build a 63 30 lead. They remained on serve from there until Zvonareva served it out at love.

"I think Maria's a great player and a great fighter and she proved it, beating two great opponents en route to the quarterfinals," Zvonareva said. "Sometimes you have certain opponents who you have a tough time beating, and some who you usually beat. It just so happens I have beaten Maria every time we've played, but there's no secret, I'm just trying to play my game, trying to execute."

Zvonareva was particularly strong on serve, only giving Kirilenko one look at a break point - and she saved it. "I'm really happy my serve helped me a lot today. I've been serving pretty consistently on the first serve, and my second serve was causing her some problems. I'm always working on improving my serve."

Next for Zvonareva is No.5 seed Petra Kvitova, who won by retirement when No.2 seed Maria Sharapova sprained her left ankle serving at 3-4 first set.

"I hit a serve then landed awkwardly on my left ankle. I felt a sharp pain and next thing I knew I was on the floor. It swelled up immediately and I knew there was no way I could continue," Sharapova said. "I will go straight to the hospital and get an MRI scan. I don't know how bad it is. I hope I can finish the season.

"I was really looking forward to this match, to be playing Petra after I lost to her at Wimbledon. There's not much more I can say right now. I'm sorry for the tournament and for my Japanese fans that the match had to end this way.

"I am incredibly disappointed and in a lot of pain."

Zvonareva and Kvitova are tied in their head-to-head, 2-2.

The No.3-seeded Azarenka followed Zvonareva into the final four with a 75 60 win over No.7 seed Marion Bartoli. Azarenka had won six of the pair's seven previous meetings, her only loss coming this year via retirement - it looked like it would be a close one this time as she dropped serve in the opening game, but she got back on serve and went on an absolute tear from 4-5 in the first set, winning nine straight games for a runaway victory over the Frenchwoman.

"Marion is a very tough opponent. When she plays well she can beat anybody. I was preparing for a tough match," Azarenka said. "It was a battle in the first set but I stepped up my level in the second set and played a more aggressive style of game. I'm really happy to be in the semifinals - with a break after the US Open it can be difficult to get your momentum going. But I feel good."

Azarenka's next opponent will be either No.9 seed Agnieszka Radwanska or Kaia Kanepi, who played the feature night match on Thursday.

Azarenka shared her thoughts about both potential opponents. "Radwanska had some great results over the summer. You never know with Kanepi - sometimes she can bring an excellent game and other times she can be off, but she has shown here she is playing really well, especially with a big win yesterday. It will be a great match between them and I'm happy to play against either one."

Radwanska ended up winning that encounter, 62 76(7), although Kanepi did hold two set points in the second set tie-break, one at 6-5 and another at 7-6.

Azarenka leads Radwanska in their head-to-head series, 5-2, although in their only previous match this year Radwanska had four match points in a 46 63 76(3) loss at Indian Wells (read more about that match here).

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