Petrova Beats Stosur, First Into Tokyo Final
Published September 28, 2012 12:00
TOKYO, Japan - They had both come from the brink of defeat earlier in the tournament, but when they came up against each other one was much sharper: Nadia Petrova served up a storm in the semifinals of the Toray Pan Pacific Open on Friday afternoon, defeating Samantha Stosur routinely in straight sets to reach the 23rd - and arguably biggest - WTA final of her career.
Both players were nearly sent home en route to this round, Stosur rallying from 4-1 down in the third set to beat Francesca Schiavone in the second round and Petrova rallying from 63 41 down to beat Sara Errani in the quarterfinals.
On the day the No.17-seeded Petrova was just too strong on serve though, losing just 11 points in her first eight service games and, while serving for it at 64 52, fending off Stosur's only three break points of the match to win, 64 62.
"Yesterday Sam beat Maria, who is one of the top players right now, so I knew I had to put in a good performance, and I think I did," Petrova said in her on-court interview. "My serve really helped, because when I'm holding my serve I can focus on breaking serve, and Sam serves very big so that's very important.
"I'm happy I stayed mentally strong throughout the match and when I was serving it out at the end. I'm very happy with how I played today."
Petrova is now through to the 23rd WTA final of her career, going 11-11 in her first 22. But there's something even more special about this one - she has never reached the final of a tournament with this much prize money, in fact it isn't even close, this one having $2,168,400 and her previous-biggest being $1,340,000 (three times at that price - Charleston, Berlin and Moscow, all in 2006).
"I haven't played the final of these kinds of events for a while," Petrova said. "It's a really good achievement for me. I'm going to enjoy it, relax and get ready for tomorrow's final, and maybe I'll even watch some of the girls playing later."
With wins over the No.7-ranked Errani and the No.9-ranked Stosur, this is perhaps surprisingly just the second time Petrova has beaten two Top 10 players at the same tournament - coincidentally, the first time was at this very tournament four years ago in 2008 (No.3 Ana Ivanovic and No.10 Agnieszka Radwanska). She has never beaten three Top 10 players at the same event.
Stosur was disappointed with the match but happy about the overall result. "I was a little disappointed the way I played," the Australian commented. "I didn't play the way I needed to and kind of went away and became too defensive on my backhand and couldn't really set up the point the way I wanted to.
"But it has still been a very good week. Making the semis was four matches better than I've done here the last few years. You've got to find the positives."