Hradecka's Dream Run Continues, Serena Next
Published May 11, 2012 12:00
MADRID, Spain - Czech qualifier Lucie Hradecka continued her shock run through the Mutua Madrid Open, following up her second round upset over reigning Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova with a 76(8) 76(6) quarterfinal stunner over reigning US Open champion Sam Stosur - and firing 19 aces.
Though she came into Madrid ranked No.105, Hradecka has seen much higher heights, having gone as high as No.41 in the world last summer. She brought out her best in her upset of World No.4 Kvitova earlier in the week, and she did it all over again against World No.5 Stosur, keeping the pressure on in a tight first set tie-break and closing it out on her fourth set point, then saving a set point in the second set tie-break. Neither player was broken in 24 service games.
"I was concentrating on my serve today, then just trying to play my best after that," Hradecka said. "It's an amazing feeling. I've never had this feeling from my singles before - I had a similar feeling winning the French Open last year in doubles, but it's different in singles because you're alone on the court.
"When the last point was over and I won, I looked at my coach and smiled, and I think the smile will last all evening, maybe even until tomorrow morning."
Hradecka's wins against Kvitova and Stosur are her first two Top 10 wins, and the 26-year-old was already competing in her first ever Premier quarterfinal.
Next up is No.9 seed Serena Williams, who followed her third round win over No.6 seed Caroline Wozniacki with a 61 63 demolition of No.2 seed Maria Sharapova, blasting 11 aces to extend her win streak against the Russian to seven matches (it was also her sixth straight win against a Top 2 player).
"Playing Maria you have to be really ready because she does everything really well," Williams said. "I felt relaxed out there, and when I play relaxed I play better. And for some strange reason, it's sometimes easier to be relaxed in the later stages of tournaments, and not be so uptight. I don't know the reason.
"I feel like I'm getting better and I just want to continue to do that."
"Serena started off the match really well. It was tough to get into that first set," Sharapova said. "She was serving really well; I had a few opportunities but it just didn't go my way this time, but I still have one more tournament before Roland Garros. I'm excited to go back and defend my title in Rome next week."
Williams is now 11-0 on clay this year, losing just one set in the process (during the aforementioned win over Wozniacki, which ended in a 16 63 62 scoreline).
Williams beat Hradecka in their only previous meeting, last summer in Cincinnati, but it was a photo finish - Williams was leading, 63 51, but eventually won, 63 76(5). "I was up and didn't close it out," Williams said after the match. "She started playing better and I was struggling. I don't know what happened."