Paszek's Breakthrough, Kerber Gets To No.39
Published June 21, 2012 12:00
EASTBOURNE, England - It was a milestone day for Angelique Kerber at the AEGON International on Thursday, as the World No.8 got her WTA-leading 39th match win of the season to reach the semifinals of the Premier-level stop.
Kerber, seeded No.5, took 59 minutes to win an all-lefty battle with Ekaterina Makarova, 62 64, breaking a three-way tie at 38 she had made the day before with World No.1 Victoria Azarenka and World No.3 Agnieszka Radwanska.
That wasn't all - Kerber is now through to her very first grass court semifinal.
"It wasn't easy today, because Ekaterina is a great player," Kerber said. "She has beaten great players before and she did it here this week too, against Petra. I just tried to focus on me and my game plan and I fought until the end.
"It means a lot to be in another semifinal this year. This is my first time here and I've been enjoying my stay. This is the best preparation for Wimbledon."
Next for Kerber is Klara Zakopalova, who rallied from 5-2 down in the second set to close Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova out, 63 75. The 30-year-old seems to be getting better as her career goes on - not only was she by far the closest player to beating Maria Sharapova at this year's French Open, but she has made her first two Premier-level semifinals this year - Paris [Indoors] and here.
Kerber leads Zakopalova in their head-to-head series, 2-1, though they haven't played in four years - and Kerber is ranked far, far higher than she was in any of those meetings (she was No.93, No.75 and No.125, respectively).
While Zakopalova was reaching her second Premier-level semifinal, Tamira Paszek was reaching her very first, breezing through the first set in just 20 minutes then holding off Tsvetana Pironkova to close it out, 60 64.
Paszek has a tough task to go one better though, as she faces No.4 seed and defending champion Marion Bartoli next. Bartoli fired eight aces in a 64 62 win over Lucie Safarova, the same player who had match point on her last year.
Bartoli commented on her smooth and successful transition to grass. "Footwork is absolutely the key," she said. "If you get late to the ball you have absolutely no chance, because the ball scoops to the court and you're hitting backwards all the time. You're hitting late. It's really not what you want to do on grass.
"So you have to get really low and get your feet moving in that low position, which is always quite hard to do, but it's something I always felt good doing, especially compared to clay. I've always enjoyed my first two or three practices on grass when I'm coming off of clay. That's really my best time."
Bartoli also commented on the situation surrounding the Olympics, which will also be played on grass: "The other players have been very nice to me, men or women, saying they didn't understand why I won't play the Olympics. But I really want to focus on the tournaments I'm playing, not on the one I'm going to miss. It's beyond my control. All I can control is my ranking and the way I'm playing on the court. I can't control my selection for the Olympics.
"I'm happy to play the tournaments in California and watch the Olympics on TV."