Underdogs Rise Up In Paris Quarterfinals

Kiki Bertens, Mona Barthel and Kristina Mladenovic all reached their first Premier-level semifinals at the Open GDF SUEZ on Friday. Sara Errani rounded out the final four - barely.

Published February 01, 2013 12:00

Underdogs Rise Up In Paris Quarterfinals
Kiki Bertens

PARIS, France - The underdogs gave the favorites some serious resistance in quarterfinals of the Open GDF SUEZ on Friday, resistance so serious that only one of those four actually made it through to the semifinals. Sara Errani was the only seed to survive, and even she had to save a match point to do it.

Facing a player who had just beaten her a few weeks ago in the first round of the Australian Open, the No.1-seeded Errani battled over three hours - and saved match point serving at 4-5, 30-40 third set - to edge Carla Suárez Navarro in an absolute grinder, 75 46 75. The match was so close the two players were even at 134 points all with Errani serving at 6-5, 30-all in the third - final tally, 136 to 134.

"It was an unbelievable match," Errani said. "She played amazing - forehand, backhand, crosscourt, down the line - she's playing really well this year and has improved a lot. It's difficult to find a way to play against her, you just have to keep going, every point. Everything was just so close today.

"I'm happy I won, but maybe I had a little bit of luck in the important moments."

Next up for Errani will be Dutch lucky loser Kiki Bertens, who upset No.6 seed and two-time Open GDF SUEZ finalist Lucie Safarova in another early quarterfinal, 61 75. Bertens has now scored her first two Top 20 wins this week - she beat Dominika Cibulkova in the first round, and now Safarova.

"This is an amazing week for my tennis," Bertens said. "Things are going very well for me here in Paris. I'm going to try to play my best tennis and we'll see what happens in the semifinals tomorrow."

And the upsets didn't stop there. In the first match of the night session, Mona Barthel upset No.3 seed Marion Bartoli, 76(7) 64, coming back from triple set point down in the tie-break and eventually beating the World No.10 in straight sets. It was her second Top 10 win, also beating Bartoli in 2012.

"I think I stayed very positive and aggressive today," Barthel said after the match. "I made a few unforced errors here and there, and I could have played better in certain games, but I think I played very well in the important points and the result is very good for me. Marion is playing very well."

In the last match of the day, French wildcard Kristina Mladenovic upset No.2 seed Petra Kvitova, 63 64, rallying from 3-1 down to take the second set. It was a tough serving day for Kvitova, who hit nine double faults to zero aces - on the other side of the net, Mladenovic got her first career Top 10 win.

"It was a tough match today, balancing between staying aggressive and staying with her, because after two or three shots the point could be over," Mladenovic said. "My tactics worked and I served well, and at the end of the day I think I played a good match. It's my best win so I'm very happy about it."

The three surprise semifinalists have all been to WTA semifinals before, but this is their first time reaching a Premier-level semifinal. Meanwhile, Errani is playing her second Premier-level semifinal, having gone this far at New Haven last year - but the Italian has also reached the semifinals or better at two even bigger stages before, having reached the final of the French Open last year (losing to Maria Sharapova) and the semifinals of the US Open, also last year (losing to Serena Williams).

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