ST. PETERSBURG, Russia - Former World No.2 Vera Zvonareva came back from a set and a break down against No.5 seed Julia Goerges to book her place into the quarterfinals of the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy.
With the home crowd at the Sibur Arena behind her, Zvonareva rallied back from the brink to claim an emphatic victory 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 in just under two hours on court.
“It’s very nice to have a home crowd behind you – it happens maybe only once or twice a year,” Zvonareva told press after the match. “I think it’s great that they came over to support and we had an almost full stadium and a great atmosphere.”
It’s Zvonareva’s second quarterfinal at home in four months after her run at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow last year. She continues the upward trend that has seen the 34-year-old Russian reach the semifinals in Shenzhen and break back inside the WTA’s Top 100 for the first time since January 2013.
Goerges played phenomenal tennis for about a set and a half, pushing Zvonareva around the court and dictating play with her forehand. She had Zvonareva under pressure, creating three break points across two games and finally earning the break at 2-1. That break would prove to be decisive, despite posting less-than-stellar service numbers (33% of first serves in during first set).
But the wheels started coming off in the second set, where the German broke early once again and started with a 2-0 lead. Zvonareva rallied as the errors started to creep into Goerges’ game, and four unforced errors in a row from Goerges handed Zvonareva the break back at 3-3.
From there on Zvonerava’s confidence rose and she started to find her range, covering the court with ease and putting the pressure right back on Goerges, who surrendered a second break at 6-4 to send the match into a decider.
Goerges twice came back from a break down against Zvonareva in the tightly contested final set. Zvonareva started out with all the momentum, getting ahead 3-1 before Goerges broke straight back.
The Russian emerged with the lead after a third consecutive break of serve, closing in on the finish line, but Goerges once again broke back to extend her stay in the set at 5-4. But she couldn’t manage to stem Zvonareva’s momentum, and the former World No.2 booked her spot in the quarterfinals with another break to claim the victory in two hours.
“I knew it was going to be a very tough match and I would have to focus on every point, regardless of the score,” she said. “Julia started unbelievably well but once I got the break [in the second set] I started to relax and play a little bit more aggressive.”
Up next, Zvonareva will face Daria Kasatkina in the quarterfinals - ensuring that a Russian player will reach the semifinals in St. Petersburg. The younger Russian player advanced with a walkover after Maria Sharapova withdrew from the tournament citing a right shoulder injury.
“It’s going to be a very difficult match,” Zvonareva assessed. “She’s a great player, much younger than me, and we’ve never met on the court before. It’s a tough challenge for me and I will try and prepare myself the best I can and we’ll see what happens.”