Johansson Stuns Cetkovska In Fès QFs
Published April 26, 2012 05:12
FÈS, Morocco - When Mathilde Johansson lost a hard-fought three-setter to Anastasia Rodionova in the final round of qualifying on Monday, she probably expected to spend the following Friday preparing for her next tournament in Estoril. What she did not expect to be doing was competing in the semifinals of the Grand Prix De SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem.
However, that is exactly what she will be doing after taking advantage of the lucky loser spot created for her by Ekaterina Makarova's 11th hour withdrawal. The Frenchwoman's latest victory came over No.3 seed and practice partner Petra Cetkovska, who she defeated in a nervy encounter, 63 64.
"I don't think I played my best tennis today as I was tense playing against my practice partner," Johansson said. "We share the same coach, and I think these matches against someone you know well can be difficult. I was happy to come through and hopefully I can improve in the semifinals."
Johansson's performance is all the more impressive considering her win-loss record for the season prior to arriving in Morocco was a miserable 0-10. In the last four Johansson will take on Laura Pous-Tio as she bids to become the first lucky loser to reach a WTA final since Melinda Czink in Canberra seven years ago.
Like Johansson, Pous-Tio has endured a difficult start to 2012, with injury and loss of form causing her ranking to slide out of the Top 100. She has put her troubles well and truly behind her this week, though, and on Thursday produced another disciplined baseline performance to notch up a third consecutive straight set win, this time over Irina-Camelia Begu, 64 61.
Pous-Tio had lost all three of her previous encounters with Begu and was understandably relieved to have finally unlocked a code to defeat the Romanian. "It was a tough match," she said. "I lost three times to her last year but this time I came in very focused and tried to be very solid from the baseline and also be aggressive when I could on the forehand and I was very successful with this game plan."
The other semifinal will pit another of the tournament's surprise packages, Kiki Bertens, with No.5 seed Simona Halep. Prior to this week, Bertens had never won a WTA main draw match. But after overcoming some second set jitters to defeat fellow qualifier Garbiñe Muguruza Blanco, 61 64, the 20-year-old has now had three in as many days.
"I think I played very good today," Bertens said. "I made a good start in both sets and, although I got a little bit nervous at the end of the second, thankfully I managed to finish it off.
"My movement was really good and I was also hitting the ball really well. She was maybe making more mistakes than usual and I was pleased I managed to take advantage."
Arguably the most impressive performance of the day came in the final singles match, as Halep produced some scintillating tennis to dismiss top seed and 2009 champion Anabel Medina Garrigues, 62 61.
"I played really well today," Halep said. "She's a strong player and I went out there just trying to enjoy the match and play my best, which I did! I like this tournament a lot and I hope I will play another good match in the semifinals."
And the upsets at the Royal Tennis Club were not confined to the singles court; in the doubles Begu teamed up with fellow Romanian Alexandra Cadantu to topple No.3 seeds Nina Bratchikova and Darija Jurak, while No.4 seeds Olga Govortsova and Olga Savchuk lost to Timea Babos and Mandy Minella.