SOFIA, Bulgaria - Caroline Wozniacki and Roberta Vinci followed Nadia Petrova and Tsvetana Pironkova into the semifinals of the Qatar Airways Tournament Of Champions Sofia on Thursday, though one had a far, far simpler day as the round robin portion continued at the season-ender.
The No.1-seeded Wozniacki was given all she could handle by No.7-seeded Daniela Hantuchova, coming within a game of losing down 63 65; but she squeaked that second set out in a tie-break and stayed on serve through almost all of the third before pouncing when Hantuchova least expected it - with the Slovak serving 4-5 and up 40-0, Wozniacki ran off the last five points of the match to sneak out a marathon 36 76(4) 64 win in two hours, 45 minutes.
Wozniacki didn't even need to win the whole match to qualify for the semifinals, she only had to win a set - but the former World No.1's focus has always been on the building blocks - fighting for every point, every match, every tournament - she isn't even worrying about returning to the Top 10, which she would do if she reaches the final here. "To be honest, when I'm in a tournament I just think about winning the tournament. I just want to see if I can do it," she said. "I don't really think about other things. I just want to win every match I play."
Hantuchova's hard-hitting performance was impressive - in the end she won more points in the match than Wozniacki, 109 to 107. But not the last two.
"Obviously I'm very disappointed because I had so many chances, and the match was in my hands - just one point here or there decided the match," Hantuchova said. "It was a great match and we were both fighting really hard, but sometimes you just have to accept that you're trying your best and trying everything you can, but in the end the result might not go your way.
"We both really wanted to win - I knew I had to win to have a chance to make the semifinals. Unfortunately it just didn't work out for me today."
The No.4-seeded Vinci followed Wozniacki into the semifinals with a 53-minute, 61 62 demolition of Hsieh Su-Wei, the No.5 seed this week - the Italian won the first 12 points of the match and took the first set in just 18 minutes.
"It was a quick match today - it was a little bit strange, she wasn't playing so well, especially in the first set she missed a lot of shots," Vinci said. "In the second set she played better, but I was playing well and focused and I'm happy about my performance and reaching the semifinals here in Sofia."
Wozniacki and Vinci finish No.1 and No.2 in Group Serdika, respectively.
The Top 2 in Group Sredets are known - Petrova and Pironkova - but the order will be determined on Friday when they play each other (the winner will be No.1 and the other will be No.2). In the semifinals, which are on Saturday, Wozniacki plays the loser of Petrova and Pironkova while Vinci plays the winner.