Cibulkova Grinds Past Zvonareva & Into SFs

Dominika Cibulkova took one step closer to her first WTA title by upsetting the No.1 seed on Friday.

Published October 21, 2011 12:00

Cibulkova Grinds Past Zvonareva & Into SFs
Dominika Cibulkova

MOSCOW, Russia - One battled for almost three hours, one didn't even have to hit a ball - but both Dominika Cibulkova and Elena Vesnina took one step closer to their first WTA title at the Premier-level Kremlin Cup on Friday.

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Vesnina was the first to advance, receiving a walkover when No.3 seed Marion Bartoli had to pull out prior to their quarterfinal match with a viral illness.

"I already wasn't feeling good in my match yesterday, but I still had a bit of energy left," Bartoli said. "This morning I had so much pain in my whole body, in my neck - I couldn't even warm up. It has been a very, very long season and I tried until the end, but that's it from me. It was just too difficult to play today."

"I saw her match yesterday and she played really well. I was actually impressed with the way she played," Vesnina said. "My first emotion when they came and told me she wasn't playing was that it wasn't true. I never had anything like that happen, especially at this stage of a big tournament like the Kremlin Cup.

"It's always very sad when something like this happens. My doubles partner yesterday hurt her knee during the match and will miss six months now."

Meanwhile, No.8 seed Cibulkova was grinding out a two-hour, 49-minute victory over No.1 seed Vera Zvonareva, rallying from 64 31 down to win, 46 64 64.

"In the first set I wasn't going for my shots enough on her second serve. It's not the way to beat a player as good as she is, because she won't give anything away," Cibulkova said. "Vera's a player you have to beat and the last time we played I beat her by really going for a lot with my forehand. In the second set today I started to do that and that's how I was able to beat her again today."

"There are things I wasn't happy about, but I think I played a decent match and it just didn't go my way," Zvonareva said. "I have a lot of fans here and I really wanted to make them happy. Today is a working day and they still came out to watch us, so I really pushed myself to the limit, maybe over the limit."

Cibulkova and Vesnina have both been shut out in WTA finals in their careers, Cibulkova 0-3 and Vesnina 0-5. One will have another shot here in Moscow.

Vesnina has beaten Cibulkova three straight times and leads the head-to-head, 3-1. Those last three meetings were all tough three-setters, however.

Kaia Kanepi and Lucie Safarova followed them into the semifinals later in the day, Kanepi easing past No.6 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova, 61 62, and Safarova with a harder-fought 64 64 victory over another Russian, Vera Dushevina.

"I struggled in the first round but I had a great match against Agnieszka in the second round and now another good one against Vera," Safarova said. "I've played Kaia a few times. She serves well and hits the ball hard and flat. I'll need to use my left-handedness and mix it up but stay aggressive."

Kanepi will be going for her first Premier-level final, while Safarova will be going for her third - she was twice a runner-up at Paris [Indoors] earlier in the year, in 2007 (losing to Nadia Petrova) and 2010 (to Elena Dementieva).

Safarova has beaten Kanepi four straight times and leads overall, 4-1.

"I think I can play with anyone here, but it's a tough tournament," Kanepi said. "You have to play well to beat anyone. I hope to keep my level going forward."

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