Pennetta Hangs Tough, Sets Up No.1 Clash

Flavia Pennetta beat Dominika Cibulkova and will try to turn the tables on Caroline Wozniacki next.

Published October 06, 2011 12:00

Pennetta Hangs Tough, Sets Up No.1 Clash
Flavia Pennetta

BEIJING, China - Italian veteran Flavia Pennetta reached her very first China Open quarterfinal Thursday, starting strong and then holding off a late surge from Dominika Cibulkova to make the final eight at the $4.5-million stop

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Her best effort in four previous appearances being the third round in 2009, the 29-year-old Pennetta battled just under two hours to record a 61 46 64 win over Cibulkova, with some very tense moments at the end of the match - she originally led 4-1 before Cibulkova closed to 4-all, then she fell behind 0-30 in her service game. But the momentum shifted again as Pennetta won eight points in a row to end it, her fourth consecutive win over the Slovak No.1.

"I started well today. I was aggressive and my serve was working well. She was also having problems with her serve," Pennetta said. "In the beginning of the second set I began to feel the pressure a little bit and started making a few mistakes. She was becoming very aggressive and hitting the ball so hard.

"After I lost the second set I tried my best to stay on the court and just fight. I was up and playing really well but I got a bit shaky and she had her chances when she made it 4-4, 0-30. But then I played eight good points in a row."

Pennetta awaited the winner of the night match, which featured No.1 seed Caroline Wozniacki and Kaia Kanepi, a rematch of their encounter from Tokyo last week, where Kanepi scored her first win over a reigning world No.1.

"I think the match between Wozniacki and Kanepi is going to be a tough match because they fought a lot last week in Tokyo," Pennetta said. "I lost against Kanepi last week so she's in good shape, and of course we don't have to say so many things about Caroline, she's obviously the No.1, so it will be tough."

Wozniacki ended up winning a tight one at night, also battling almost two hours to beat Kanepi, 63 76(3). The Dane had problems closing the Estonian out, originally leading 63 53 with match point at 63 54; but she eventually sealed it.

"I think it was a high level today. She has been No.15 or No.16 in the world, I think, so I knew it was going to be tough, also after losing to her last week," Wozniacki said. "I was really happy to get this win and to get my revenge."

Wozniacki is the only Top 10 player to make the quarterfinals of the China Open. "I don't really think about it. There are so many good players on the tour nowadays and you need to play well every time to win. I'm just taking it one match at a time. Flavia is a tough opponent and it's not going to be easy."

Wozniacki has won all five of her previous meetings with Pennetta, although it hasn't been easy - three of those have gone to three sets.

Earlier in the day, Wozniacki was presented a cake commemorating a year since she first rose to the No.1 ranking, which came after her third round win over Petra Kvitova last year. "The cake was very nice," she said. "It was really nice of the WTA and the tournament to make that cake for me. I mean, one year anniversary, it's a big deal to me. It's fun to be back playing on this stadium."

No.11 seed Agnieszka Radwanska was also among the winners, scoring a 64 62 win over Sofia Arvidsson to extend her winning streak to eight matches, having gone 6-0 to win Tokyo last week and 2-0 so far here in Beijing.

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