Chakvetadze Ousts Mirza in Three; Faces Morigami for Cincinnati Title

Posted on July 22, 2007

CINCINNATI, OH, USA - On Friday night Akiko Morigami took out No.2 seed Patty Schnyder, and now she'll have a shot at top-seeded Anna Chakvetadze as both the Japanese and the Russian won semifinals Saturday at the Western Southern Financial Group Women's Open.

Morigami fought off a stern challenge from surprise semifinalist Akgul Amanmuradova to win, 67(8) 64 63, in a few minutes shy of two and a half hours. No.7 seed Morigami had her chances in the first set, holding three set points in the tie-break, and Amanmuradova would always fight back. But Morigami gained the first break of the match at the beginning of the second and began inching ahead, eventually winning the day's first semifinal encounter in three sets.

"I really enjoyed the match; we both played really well and I had to come up with some great shots," Morigami said. "I had to battle to the end. I definitely had to be mentally tough. I knew who she was, but I'd never really seen her play. My coach saw her play yesterday. I think she can play at this level. She's good!"

"I played well all week, she just played better today," Amanmuradova said. "She played the big points better. Her short crosscourt game was very good. I got a bit tired, and if you get tired, you don't put in so many first serves. In the second set she became much more aggressive and started taking her chances."

As she got going, Morigami's plan seemed centered on moving Amanmuradova, a game plan that began drawing enough errors to give her the edge.

"She's a really tall girl and I thought her movement was not the best thing, so I made her move and it took time away from her," Morigami said. "When I had opportunities I'd come into net. I just told myself to be aggressive and attack."

Amanmuradova, who had only gotten this far once previously at a Sony Ericsson WTA Tour event - reaching the Tashkent final in 2005 - got a standing ovation upon leaving the court, from a crowd that had seen her come out of qualifying.

"When you lose a match and walk off the court and people clap it's amazing. I've never had this kind of experience and I really appreciate it. I've had cheers at home but it is home, and there people don't really understand tennis yet, they're more into soccer. But I feel people understand tennis here."

Morigami will have a chance to beat both of the tournament's Top 2 seeds, as she faces Chakvetadze in the final. Chakvetadze rebounded from a second set lull by winning the first five games of the third, beating No.3 seed Sania Mirza, 62 57 63.

"It was really up and down on both sides," said Chakvetadze, who also fought back from 4-1 down in the second set only to get pushed to a third anyway. "In the first set she didn't play very well, making a lot of mistakes. In the third, she was more relaxed because she was down 5-0. But overall it was a good match."

"She played a great match; she's a tricky player to play," said Mirza, who fell to 0-2 lifetime against her fellow 20-year-old. "After the second set, I was mentally drained after playing so many close points. I think my level dropped a bit and hers raised and when you are playing the Top 10 you can't afford to do that."

Chakvetadze has an excellent 4-0 career finals record, winning singles titles at Guangzhou and Moscow last year and at Hobart and 's-Hertogenbosch this year.

"I think all top players play better in finals, and that's the way I want to play too. I want to play important matches with more confidence and concentration."

Morigami is 3-0 against Chakvetadze, most relevantly winning the pair's lone summer hardcourt encounter at San Diego in 2005, 63 64. But the pair hasn't met since last year's clay court season, and both have changed somewhat since.

"She's a really good player," Morigami said. "For me it's about playing and having fun because you don't get many opportunities to play finals. Obviously, you have got to compete really hard, but both players in a final are really good, and Anna has been playing really well this year. So I'm just going to try and enjoy myself."

"Last time we played was more than a year ago, and I'm a different player now," stated Chakvetadze. "She did pretty well at Wimbledon and I know she's in great shape now too. So it'll be an interesting match for me. I'll need to play better."

Both doubles semifinals were also contested, with No.1 seeds Mirza and Bethanie Mattek beating Liga Dekmeijere and Ipek Senoglu, 26 63 103, and Alina Jidkova and Tatiana Poutchek bouncing No.3 seeds Morigami and Aiko Nakamura, 62 61. The doubles final will immediately follow the singles final and trophy presentation. (WTA)