Saturday, July 31, 2010

Groth needs one more win for first Final

Elena Vesnina was on a seven match losing streak before this week, her last victory having come in April. In fact, she fell outside the Top 50 earlier this month for the first time in more than a year. But she has shaken off her slump at the Istanbul Cup, where she has yet to drop a set in three matches this week.

Vesnina, currently ranked 60th, defeated Anastasia Rodionova, 7-5 6-1, on Friday to raise her career record to 4-0 against the Australian.

"It was a tough match and I thought in the first set, Anastasia and I played great quality tennis, we had great rallies and fought for every point," said Vesnina, who has never lost a set to Rodionova. "I was a little bit lucky at the end of the first set and in the second I was just able to focus on every single point and played well to get the win."

Vesnina's semifinal opponent on Saturday will be Andrea Petkovic, who handled Elena Baltacha, 6-4 6-0. The German is having her best year on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, highlighted by a semifinal showing in Brisbane and a run to the final in 's-Hertogenbosch. In the most recent encounter between the two semifinalists, Petkovic prevailed in three sets in the first round of this year's French Open.

"Today was the first match where I played really well," said the sixth-seeded Petkovic. "In the first two matches I was struggling a little bit so I just want to take it match by match. Tomorrow I play a very good player, Elena Vesnina, and I had a great battle against her at the French Open. It's going to be tough, so I will take it point by point and then see. If I start thinking about the title now, I will lose, that's for sure."

On the bottom half of the draw, Jarmila Groth and No.3 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, neither of whom have lost a set this week either, will do battle for a spot in the final.

Groth made sure Vera Dushevina will not get a chance to defend her title here, beating the Russian, 7-5 6-2. By recording her first win in three career meetings with Dushevina, Groth has matched her career-best Tour result, a semifinal showing at Tokyo (Japan Open) in 2008.

"Every match is different and all I can try to do is my best, fight for every point, and play as well as I can," Groth said of her semifinal against Pavlyuchenkova. "If I win it's great, if I lose there is always another week and something to learn. Pavlyuchenkova is a good tennis player, she's very young. She has to be playing well to make it this far, so I will try to prepare as well as I can."

The 19-year-old Pavlyuchenkova topped Sorana Cirstea, 6-4 6-2, and in making the semis, has posted her best result since capturing her first Tour singles title at Monterrey in March. The Russian, who has yet to lose more than four games in a set all week, reached her career-high ranking of No.25 right after Monterrey and is now just a few spots below that at No.29.

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