BRUSSELS, Belgium - It was another catch-up day at the Brussels Open on Thursday, with the second round wrapping up and two quarterfinals taking the courts at the Premier-level event as well.
The last two second round matches were first up on the schedule, beginning with a thriller between No.5 seed Kirsten Flipkens and Jamie Hampton, which Hampton squeaked out, 64 36 75. After winning the first set Hampton looked on as Flipkens went on total cruise control in front of her home crowd, winning the second set and building a 5-1 lead in the third; but Hampton clawed back, even saving a match point down 5-4, and eventually made it past the Belgian No.1 on a run of six straight games.
"I should have finished it in the third," Flipkens said. "I was playing much more aggressively and coming in much better from the second set on, and I was up 5-1 in the third, and I had match point. But I was just stressing to finish it. It hasn't happened to me a lot before, but it happens. I was just trying to give my 200% here in front of my family and friends. I wanted to win too badly today, I think."
The other remaining second round match between No.2 seed Roberta Vinci and Yulia Putintseva was tied at a set apiece when it was suspended the day before, so they played a set to decide it. And after going down a break at 2-1 it was Vinci who took charge, winning the last five games of the match - and putting on a dazzling display of net rushing - to dispatch the feisty Kazakh teenager, 63 57 62.
"It's tough to wait around so much - I've been spending a lot of time in the players lounge with my iPod," Vinci said afterwards. "Also because of all the rain the court was really slow today, and it was also quite cold, but it's okay - I just wore warmer clothes, it's not like I'd play in a bikini anyway!
"Yulia is a tough player but I'm confident right now and was ready for it. I'm happy I could win."
"It was cold out there but I had a good start, probably because I played so much yesterday," Peng said. "After I won the first set she started playing better. But then from 2-all the next few games were really good for me - at 5-3 I really tried to focus and finish the match, so I'm happy I did that today."
Peng is now through to the seventh Premier-level semifinal of her career, but this has been a tough stage for her, as she has gone 1-5 in her previous six - but on the flip side, the only win did come at this very tournament in 2011, when she made it to the final before falling to Caroline Wozniacki.
"Two years ago I made the final here so I always feel really good here, and now I'm in the semifinals again," Peng said. "I'll keep fighting in the next match and hopefully I can make the final again."
The other quarterfinal saw Romina Oprandi beat Zheng Jie, winning the first set and holding a point for 4-2 in the second set but dropping that set - but then running away with it in the third, 63 36 60.
Oprandi is now through to her fourth WTA semifinal, having also achieved the feat at Palermo in 2010, 's-Hertogenbosch in 2011 and Oeiras this year. She has been stopped at this stage every time though.
Peng and Oprandi will now square off in the semifinals, with their head-to-head series tied at 1-1.
"We just played a few weeks ago in Portugal and it was a really tough match for me," Peng said. "She played so many drop shots and they worked so well on the clay. She beat me really easily that day!"