Kurumi Nara swept past fellow WTA Rising Star Kristina Mladenovic to reach the semifinals of the Citi Open. Two of Russia's four best players also made the cut.
WTA Staff

WASHINGTON DC, USA - Kurumi Nara won an all-WTA Rising Star battle against Kristina Mladenovic to reach the Citi Open semifinals, where she will take on talented New Zealander Marina Erakovic.

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Mladenovic, who had taken out No.1 seed Lucie Safarova earlier in the tournament, came out firing, breaking at love in the third game of the match en route to an early 3-1 lead. But Nara, who also took out one of the favorites earlier in the week - No.7 seed Madison Keys - went into overdrive from there, winning 11 of the next 12 games to cruise through in just an hour and 14 minutes, 6-3, 6-1.

Next up for Nara will be Erakovic, who ended the run of another WTA Rising Star, Bojana Jovanovski, reeling off six straight games from 3-4 in the first set to build a 6-4, 3-0 lead and never really looking back, eventually making it past the hard-hitting young Serb in an hour and 20 minutes, 6-4, 6-4.

"Overall it was a really tough match," Erakovic said. "It was really humid out there and we did a lot of running, and Bojana is a very solid girl - she hits a big ball and it can be really difficult for me to dictate. So I just had to keep fighting out there and take chances whenever the chances came."

Nara and Erakovic are tied in their head-to-head, 1-1, though they haven't played in four years.

The other semifinal will feature two of the four best Russians on the WTA - Ekaterina Makarova and Svetlana Kuznetsova. The No.6-seeded Kuznetsova was the first to advance though she didn't even have to hit a single ball, advancing via walkover when Vania King withdrew due to a right hip injury.

In the highest-profile quarterfinal match-up of the day, the No.2-seeded Makarova edged No.5-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in a one-hour, 47-minute two-setter, 7-6(3), 6-3. Pavlyuchenkova had her chances in the first set - she was two points from winning the set with Makarova serving at 4-5, 30-all, and she was also up 2-0 in the tie-break. But Makarova snuck it out and cruised from there.

Kuznetsova leads Makarova in their head-to-head, 3-1, which includes a 2-0 record on hardcourts.

They are two of the four highest-ranked Russians on the WTA Rankings at the moment. Maria Sharapova is at No.6, then Makarova at No.20, Pavlyuchenkova at No.24 and Kuznetsova at No.26.