Fifth seed and world No 52 Sabine Lisicki shrugged off a sluggish start to see off a gritty Marina Erakovic 5-7 6-3 6-2 in a gruelling quarter-final match at the US$235,000 PTT Pattaya Open at Dusit Thani Pattaya yesterday.
Sailing her way into the last eight with two comfortable wins in the early rounds, the 23-year-old Lisicki faced a tougher test against New Zealand’s Erakovic, with whom she had a 1-1 record.
In a tense opening set, the two players at times struggled to hold their service games but they often came up with some good serving to bail themselves out of trouble at crucial moments.
Tied at 5-5, it seemed nerves eventually got the better of the German as she was broken to love to hand Erakovic, who steered her way through the draw with victories over third seed Su-Wei Hsieh and Thai wildcard Varatchaya Wongteanchai, the advantage. She served out the first set, which lasted 53 minutes.
The second set turned out to be a scrappy contest fraught with a number of mistakes from both players. After the pair swapped breaks twice, this time it was Lisicki who held her nerves better by clinching her third break of the set in game six.
Looking to make up for her first-round loss at Melbourne Park, Lisicki held her next two service games to force the decider. With the momentum shifting towards the German, the fifth seed powered her way past the wilting New Zealander in the third to secure her semi-final spot. She will play the winner of the Ayumi Morita v Nina Bratchikova match due to be played later in the day.
World No 60 Morita of Japan and Russian Bratchikova scored major upsets en route to the quarter-finals, with the former ousting top seed Ana Ivanovic in the rain-interrupted first-round match while the latter moved past defending champion Daniela Hantuchova after the Slovakian had to retire from the second-round tie.
Fourth seed Sorana Cirstea enjoyed a far more comfortable afternoon. The Romanian finished her quarter-final tie against Latvia’s Anastasia Sevastova earlier than Lisicki despite starting the match on court two later than the German.
With Sevastova, who made her way through from the qualifying rounds, unable to reproduce the form that saw her defeat eighth seed Heather Watsaon in the previous round, world No 30 Cirstea stormed to a 6-3 6-0 victory within only 56 minutes.
“Anastais is very good player. But, I think she suffered injuries lately and was just coming back. It was not an easy match, especially at the beginning. I did break her at 4-3 and then I started playing well. I’m very happy with the way I have played in the event so far,” said the Romanian who has reached the last four for the second consecutive year.
In the doubles, the home duo of Varatchaya and her younger sister Varunya kept the Thai flag flying by advancing to the semi-finals. The pair spent only 58 minutes to claim a straight-set victory over Irina Buryachok and Valeria Solovyeva.
In Wednesday’s late evening match, Thailand’s interest in the singles event ended after second seed Maria Kirilenko snuffed out any hope of what would have been a major upset. The Russian overcame a slow start and a one-set deficit to beat teenager Luksika Kumkhum 5-7 6-2 6-2 in the second-round battle that lasted nearly two and a half hours. With world No 13 Ivanovic of Serbia and Hantuchova, who beat her in last year’s final to win back-to-back trophies, already gone, the 26-year-old Kirilenko became an odds-on favourite to win the title that has eluded her so far.
The Russian, who usually enjoys a big following at the seaside city, though, first has to negotiate her quarter-final against compatriot and seventh seed Elena Vesnina, which was due to take place later yesterday.