Cabeza Candela's First WTA Semifinal
Published July 12, 2013 12:00
PALERMO, Italy - Over the last few years Estrella Cabeza Candela had been to the quarterfinals of WTA events time and time again, but was blocked every time - but that pattern came to an end on a very hot Friday at the XXVI Italiacom Open, as the Spaniard finally got to her first WTA semifinal.
Facing fellow unseeded player Renata Voracova, things didn't look so hot for Cabeza Candela as she was two points away from losing the first set, serving at 3-5, 15-30, but she came alive from there with five straight games to go up 75 10, and she never really looked back to close the Czech out, 75 64.
"Today was a hot day already and we played at 4 o'clock, so it was even hotter," Cabeza Candela said. "My opponent was playing very fast and hitting the ball very flat and hard, so I had to run a lot out there, which wasn't easy. But I'm really happy I managed to win after such a tough challenge today."
It was especially impressive given the day before she had spent almost two and a half hours on court to take out the tournament's No.3 seed, Kristina Mladenovic. But her recovery from that was smooth.
"I was so hungry when I finished that match so I just ate more afterwards, and then I went to the physio. They gave me everything I needed. I slept well last night and was ready to play again today."
Cabeza Candela had been to five WTA quarterfinals before this one, all at International-level clay court events too - Barcelona and Budapest in 2011 (falling to Lucie Hradecka and Irina-Camelia Begu) and Acapulco, Bad Gastein and Palermo in 2012 (falling to Sara Errani, Alizé Cornet and Begu again).
The 0-5 quarterfinal record she had prior to this match was on her mind, well, prior to this match.
"I was thinking about that earlier today, but I just told myself to focus on trying my best for each point during the match so I wouldn't be thinking about it!" Cabeza Candela said. "I'm so, so happy to be in my first WTA semifinal now. I'll go out there tomorrow and try my best to make the final here."
Making the final will be a much tougher task though, as next up for the unseeded World No.108 is the No.2-seeded, No.11-ranked Roberta Vinci, who held all nine of her service games - swatting away the only break point she faced - en route to a 61 64 victory against No.5 seed Lourdes Domínguez Lino.
Vinci beat Cabeza Candela in their only previous meeting, in the qualies of the US Open back in 2008.
The other semifinal will pit No.1 seed Sara Errani against No.4 seed Klara Zakopalova, after Errani won nine straight games from 3-4 in the first set to defeat No.7 seed Sílvia Soler-Espinosa, 64 60, and Zakopalova recovered from squandering a 3-1 second set lead to beat Dinah Pfizenmaier, 75 67(4) 61.
Errani leads Zakopalova in their head-to-head, 3-2, losing the first two but winning the last three.