Barbora Zahlavova Strycova reached the BNP Paribas Fortis Diamond Games semifinals and is now a win away from breaking the Top 20. Andrea Petkovic awaits.
WTA Staff

ANTWERP, Belgium - Barbora Zahlavova Strycova has been getting better and better with experience, and she's now just one victory away from breaking into the world's Top 20 for the first time.

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Facing Mona Barthel, who the day before had taken out the tournament's No.1 seed, Eugenie Bouchard, Zahlavova Strycova was in total control, breaking serve five times to prevail, 6-2, 6-2.

The Czech is through to the semifinals of a Premier-level event for the second time in her career - she made the Birmingham final last summer - and she was asked why she's playing so well here.

"Because it's a great tournament and there are great people around us," she said. "The atmosphere and organization is very good here, so maybe that's the reason I - and all of us - feel good here."

If Zahlavova Strycova wins her semifinal match Saturday, she'll crack the Top 20 for the first time.

Standing between her and that feat will be No.3 seed Andrea Petkovic, who won a marathon 72-minute first set then ran away with it in the second set to beat No.6 seed Dominika Cibulkova, 7-6(2), 6-0.

"I was very happy with the first set. I think we both played great tennis," Petkovic said.

"We were returning very well - neither of us could hold serve, and I had so many set points and couldn't take any of them! I was really happy I was able to get through the match under two hours."

Win or lose that match, Petkovic was already guaranteed of breaking back into the Top 10.

"It makes me feel so great because I've been struggling a lot with my injuries, and I never thought I would come back to the Top 10," Petkovic commented. "I proved to myself and anyone who doubted me that I could do it. I'm just very grateful for this second chance I got, and that I took it.

"It can only get better from here."

Petkovic leads Zahlavova Strycova in their head-to-head, 2-1, but they haven't played since 2012.

"She's a very tricky opponent," Petkovic said. "She has great feel for the ball and really makes you move on the court. She has great volleys and she's such a clever player. I need to play my best."