MIAMI, FL, USA - After a quarterfinal triumph on Wednesday at the Sony Ericsson Open, Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova are two wins away from their first title since 2009 and as the highest seeded duo remaining, should like their chances for their third career title.
The fifth-seeded Russians cruised through the first set against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Lucie Safarova before a second set battle ensued. There were no breaks in the set, which lasted just under an hour. Pavlyuchenkova and Safarova took a 5-3 lead in the tie-break but Kirilenko and Petrova then reeled off four straight points to clinch the 61 76(5) victory.
In Friday's semifinals, Kirilenko and Petrova will play Vania King and Monica Niculescu, whom they have never played as a duo but lost to each of them with other partners in the last two majors. Kirilenko and Petrova fell to King and Yaroslava Shvedova in the semifinals of the 2011 US Open and to Irina-Camelia Begu and Niculescu in the third round of the 2012 Australian Open.
King and Niculescu reached the final four by beating Anabel Medina Garrigues and Flavia Pennetta, 75 62, rebounding after letting a 4-1 first set lead slip away. This is King and Niculescu's first event together since the 2009 US Open and just the second time they have made a semifinal, having also gotten that far at Los Angeles in 2009.
The semifinal on the bottom half of the draw will feature No.6 seeds Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci against wildcards Gisela Dulko and Paola Suárez. The Italians are 17-3 on the year and currently occupy the second spot in the standings in the race to qualify for the WTA Championships. This will be Dulko and Suárez's third semifinal since the Argentines teamed up when Suárez returned to the WTA in February.