STUTTGART, Germany - Down a match point in the second round of qualifying, who would have thought Bethanie Mattek-Sands would find herself in the semifinals of the main draw five days later? Well it's reality - the American continued her fairytale run at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix on Friday.
Mattek-Sands faced a match point down 5-4 in the third set of that qualifying match against Maryna Zanevska but made it through that one and into the main draw - and on Friday, after wins over Yanina Wickmayer and Sara Errani in the first two rounds, she came good once again, firing 24 winners and converting on all six of her break points to move past Sabine Lisicki in the quarterfinals, 64 62.
"I played Sabine last year at the French Open and she's been playing well again this year," Mattek-Sands said. "She's had some good results and has a lot of confidence. I knew I had to play well.
"I had some good support out there from the crowd, even though I was playing a German girl - and I'm looking forward to the same tomorrow. To be in the semis after coming back from match point down in the qualifying is a pretty good feeling, and obviously beating Sara yesterday was a great win for me.
"This has definitely been one of the best weeks of my career."
"Bethanie played an unbelievable match today - she was painting the lines, so all credit to her," Lisicki said. "But I'm taking lots of positives from this week. I've started feeling a lot more comfortable on the court and I'm playing more with my instinct again - I think it was a good start for me to get back to where I was. Unfortunately I made some mistakes and didn't take too many of my chances today, but I had a great win yesterday, and this is definitely something I can build on going forward this year."
Mattek-Sands Vs Lisicki Video: Match Highlights
Next up for Mattek-Sands will be No.2 seed Li Na, who won a see-saw two-setter against No.5 seed Petra Kvitova, 63 75. Kvitova came out strong, winning the first two games of the match, but Li went on a tear from there, taking 11 of the next 14 games to build a 63 52 lead. Kvitova made a last stand, winning three games in a row to even the second set, 5-all, but Li regrouped to close it out.
"Every time we play, Kvitova is tough," Li said. "I have to stay back and play defense. She really doesn't give me a lot of space to follow my game plan. And even when I was up a set and 5-2 she kept fighting - when she got back to 5-5 I tried to come forward in the court and get back to my game.
"I'm very happy to be in my first semifinal here - I always seemed to be stuck in the quarterfinals!"
Li beat Mattek-Sands in their only previous meeting, though it was a tough three-setter, and on clay, too - the quarterfinals of Madrid two years ago, shortly before Li went on to win the French Open.
"Bethanie plays a lot of doubles and can do a lot of things on the court," Li said. "She likes to play aggressive and come to the net. I will have to play deep to keep her at the baseline. She has had a good week and should be confident - but I'm doing well too, so I think it will be a good match!"