CHARLESTON, SC, USA - Lucie Safarova pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the week, while Samantha Stosur got to the halfway point of a Williams Double, all on Quarterfinal Friday at the Premier-level Family Circle Cup.
The No.2-seeded Stosur was the iron woman of the day, not only completing her rain-suspended third round match against Galina Voskoboeva - she was 4-2 up in the first set when the rains fell Thursday night, closing it out 63 46 62 on Friday morning - but then coming back on court less than two hours later to pull off her first win in five career meetings with Venus Williams, 63 46 63.
"I don't think it was the end of the world to get out there and play this morning," Stosur said after everything. "Today was very different than what we've been playing in, so it was good to get used to the conditions. I would have preferred not to play two three set matches, but nevertheless, I'm happy to be through."
The win was particularly meaningful for Stosur, given she had lost all four of her previous meetings with Williams in straight sets, and routinely too: "It's only one win compared to I don't know how many times she's beaten me, five or six, but of course I'm very, very happy to have beaten Venus now. It's always a good challenge coming up against the players you've never beaten, and I've always struggled against her game, but thankfully I was able to turn it around."
Next up for Stosur will be No.5 seed Serena Williams, who made it through to the semifinals earlier in the afternoon after No.6 seed Sabine Lisicki suffered a left ankle injury and had to retire from the match down 4-1 in the opening set.
Williams and Lisicki shared some words at the net during the handshake.
"I just told her it would be all right," Williams recalled. "I'm in an emotional time in my life, so I told her, 'Don't cry, because you're going to make me cry,' and I was like, my eyes are getting watery. I'm always crying. But it's not the French Open now. At least it happened earlier and you can recover. It's okay. I've been through those injuries, and it sucks. It really, really sucks."
Only eight times has a player beaten both Williams sisters at the same event: 1998 Sydney (Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario), 1999 Sydney (Steffi Graf), 2001 Australian Open (Martina Hingis), 2002 WTA Championships (Kim Clijsters), 2004 Los Angeles (Lindsay Davenport), 2007 US Open (Justine Henin), 2009 US Open (Clijsters) and 2010 Rome on clay (Jelena Jankovic).
Williams leads Stosur in their head-to-head series, 5-3, although in their only clay court meeting it was Stosur who prevailed, in the quarterfinals of the 2010 French Open (Williams did have a match point in that one however).
"For sure clay isn't her favorite surface, but it's always tough playing Serena no matter what surface you're on," Stosur said. "We've played a couple times in quick succession recently, and they've been pretty good matches, so I'm sure tomorrow is going to be no different. I'm really looking forward to it."
No.9 seed Lucie Safarova became the third woman into the semifinals, outdoing No.4 seed and two-time Charleston finalist Vera Zvonareva, 63 63 - Zvonareva fought the first match point off with a crosscourt forehand winner on the line, but Safarova won it on her second with a crosscourt backhand winner.
Safarova scored her 14th career Top 10 win and is now one win away from her third career Premier-level final, having twice reached the final of Paris [Indoors] (finishing runner-up to Nadia Petrova in 2007 and Elena Dementieva in 2010).
Next up for Safarova is No.14 seed Polona Hercog, who rolled past No.13 seed Nadia Petrova in the feature night match, 61 62. Hercog was already playing in her first Premier-level quarterfinal; now she is into the semifinals, too.
"I was aggressive from the beginning," Hercog said. "Nadia's a very experienced player. We were 1-1 before this match, and it's always a challenge to play a player of this kind of class, and I'm just very happy with this win. I just tried to focus on myself and adapt my game to the conditions, and it worked well."
"Lucie's obviously a very good player and is very fit, and she's a very nice girl, too," Hercog said. "You just have to go into the match and you have to believe. I'll try to mix up my game and let the best player win tomorrow."