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Kerber & Kirilenko Set Up First Meeting

Angelique Kerber and Maria Kirilenko will play for the first time in the semifinals in Monterrey. They are the second-highest-ranked pair not to have played each other - who's the highest?

Published April 05, 2013 12:00

Kerber & Kirilenko Set Up First Meeting
Angelique Kerber, Ayumi Morita

MONTERREY, México - It's rare that two players ranked so high have never played, but that will come to an end now as Angelique Kerber and Maria Kirilenko set up a semifinal clash in Monterrey.

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The No.1-seeded Kerber was the first to move through to the semifinals, needing just 51 minutes to get by No.8 seed Ayumi Morita, 62 61. Kerber had been pushed to three sets in the last round, but this time was on her game - she even won seven games in a row at one point, from 4-2 through 62 50.

"It wasn't an easy match but I was playing much better than yesterday," Kerber said. "My serve was much better than last night and I was feeling really good out there. I'm happy to reach the semis."

How does the tournament's top seed feel about the tournament? "I got a very nice welcome when I came here," Kerber said. "Everybody has been so friendly and so nice, the organization has been really good, and the Tournament Director has been great. I feel very welcome in Monterrey."

The No.3-seeded Kirilenko had it tougher in her match but also advanced in straight sets, rolling in the first set then grinding out a 53-minute second set to beat No.7 seed Urszula Radwanska, 61 64.

Now Kerber and Kirilenko will have that aforementioned first meeting - their thoughts on it?

"I hope I can play like I did today," Kerber said of the match-up. "I need to be ready, 100%."

"Sometimes you get really tough matches - you just have to go out there and play," Kirilenko said.

World No.6 Kerber and World No.12 Kirilenko are the second-highest-ranked pair never to have played each other. The highest-ranked pair is, again, World No.6 Kerber, but with World No.11 Nadia Petrova.

The other semifinal pits No.5 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova against an unseeded Monica Niculescu. Pavlyuchenkova beat Lauren Davis, 62 75, and Niculescu beat defending champ Timea Babos, 75 62.

"It was pretty tough conditions out there with a lot of wind - it wasn't easy to control the ball that well," Pavlyuchenkova said of her win. "I started well but I lost a little bit of concentration in the second set - and she was doing very well, running a lot of balls down and getting everything back, so I just had to stay calm and play my game and stay aggressive. I think I did a great job of doing that today."

"Timea won here last year, she feels good here and the crowd was supporting her," Niculescu said of her win over Babos. "I think I played well in the important moments, though, like at 5-all in the first set and at 4-2 in the second set, and I managed to win today. I'm excited to be in the semifinals."

Pavlyuchenkova beat Niculescu in their only previous meeting, though it was all of five years ago.

"I think Monica's kind of similar to Davis in a way, like she's not too aggressive, moves well, runs a lot of balls down," Pavlyuchenkova said. "Also her forehand is very tricky because she slices it a lot, which is something you don't see too often in tennis. I just have to stay calm and play my game again."

"I've played her before but it was in juniors or something like that," Niculescu said. "It's not going to be easy. Quarters was tough and semifinals will be too. I hope I can play better than today."

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