Friday, August 13, 2010

Pavlyuchenkova into Cincinnati semifinals

I can't recall the last time (there must have been some time) that a player was down 1-5 in both the first and second sets of a match, and won the match. But that was the situation Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova found herself in today at the Cincinnati quarterfinals.

Pavlyuchenkova went down 1-5 in her first set against 12th seed Yanina Wickmayer, saved three set points, then went on to break, go to 6-5, and break again. Down 1-5 in the second, set, she broke, but lost the set 3-6. The young Russian (now know as the Teen Queen, since she's the highest-ranked teenager on the tour) went up 4-0 in the third, and wound up winning that set 6-1.

This has to be the bitterest of losses for Wickmayer. Pavlyuchenkova, on the other hand, is showing fans the kind of fighting tennis that made her the junior world number 1. It has taken her some time to adjust to playing on the tour, but now she is getting results. Pavlyuchenkova has now won nine straight matches.

For qualifier Akgul Amanmuradova, the Cincinnati quarterfinals were a trip back to reality, as an in-form Ana Ivanovic defeated her 6-1, 6-3.

And for 11th seed Flavia Pennetta, it was a pattern her fans have seen too many times--barely lose the first set, then fade somewhat in the second. Pennetta was up a break in both of her sets against 4th seed Kim Clijsters. The set was highly competitive, with the Italian salvaging nine of ten break opportunities against her.

The set went to a tiebreak, which Clijsters won, 8-6. Pennetta played well in the second set, but her level clearly dropped. To be fair, she made several shots that very few players on the tour could have gotten to, but Clijsters, like Jankovic, is one of those players who can get to almost any ball. (And for the tennis commentators and writers who say that Clijsters has stopped sliding on hard courts, all I have to say is: Pennetta wishes.) Clijsters took the second set 6-4.

The last quarterfinal, between Maria Sharapova and Marion Bartoli, will be played later today.

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