MOSCOW, Russia - With some big hitting off the ground, Sofia Arvidsson continued to fly the flag for the underdogs at the Kremlin Cup on Friday, crashing a final four that also includes the No.1, No.3 and No.4 seeds.
Arvidsson, who is unseeded at the Premier-level tournament, had beaten No.2 seed Marion Bartoli in the second round and in the quarterfinals on Friday took out No.7 seed Maria Kirilenko fairly routinely in straight sets, 63 63.
"Maria's a tough player, a very aggressive player, so I knew I had to serve well and hit the ball deep today so she couldn't go in the court," Arvidsson said. "I was a little bit nervous because this is a very big tournament, but I was able to play through it. I'm happy with the win and look forward to the semifinals."
Arvidsson's win over the No.16-ranked Kirilenko was her fifth Top 20 win of the year, following wins over Roberta Vinci (French Open), Jelena Jankovic ('s-Hertogenbosch), Lucie Safarova (Linz) and Bartoli (here in Moscow).
The win also propelled Arvidsson into the second Premier-level semifinal of her career, having also gone this far on the clay of Brussels earlier this year (where she ended up falling in straight sets to eventual runner-up Simona Halep).
Next up for Arvidsson is fellow Scandinavian Caroline Wozniacki, who is currently ranked No.11 in the world and the No.3 seed here. Wozniacki had a tricky 62 67(1) 61 win over No.5 seed and defending champion Dominika Cibulkova, serving for the match twice in the second set and getting broken at love each time, but closing the Slovak out handily in the third set.
"The difference was I was able to keep playing at a high level at the end, and that I won the most important points in the beginning of the third set," Wozniacki said. "Sometimes you just lose a few important points and can lose a set in tennis - maybe if I played better at the end of the second set I could have closed it out 6-4 or 7-5, but we went to a third set so I just had to refocus."
Wozniacki leads Arvidsson in their head-to-head, 6-2, her only loss to Arvidsson since 2006 coming when she had to retire from a match in 2011. But the Swede nearly got another one on the board at Indian Wells this year, leading 63 54 before Wozniacki took her defense up a big notch and won, 36 75 62.
"I knew it would be a tough match," Wozniacki said in her on-court interview that night at Indian Wells. "I have known Sofia since I was 12 or 13, we had the same sponsor and practiced and played together all the time. But I fought for every point and made it through - I'm happy to be through this one."
"The court here is pretty slow so she'll be tough to beat, but we've played a few times this year and I feel I'm getting closer every time I play her," Arvidsson said. "Caroline and I are good friends. We know each other well. It'll be tough."
The other semifinal will pit No.1 seed Samantha Stosur against No.4 seed Ana Ivanovic, after both recorded straight set wins at night, Stosur facing points for a 4-1 second set deficit but sneaking out a 61 63 win over Klara Zakopalova, and Ivanovic beating Russian-born Serbian qualifier Vesna Dolonc, 64 61.
Stosur and Ivanovic are tied in their head-to-head, 2-2, though Stosur has won both of their hardcourt meetings in straight sets (Ivanovic's wins came on clay and grass). The pair hasn't played in more than three years, though.