Chakvetadze, Hantuchova Battle in Stanford SemifinalsPosted on July 28, 2007
STANFORD, CA, USA - There will be nothing but new faces in the Bank of the West Classic semifinals on Saturday after four players notched their career-best performances at the Tier II event with quarterfinal wins Friday. Among those making the final four was No.1 seed Anna Chakvetadze, who was the only one pushed to three sets before winning.
A No.7-seeded Katarina Srebotnik gave Chakvetadze a run for her money in the first set with her aggressive game, but would eventually succumb to the tireless accuracy of the young Russian, 46 62 62. Srebotnik won a pivotal seventh game of that first set, one that lasted 26 points and would give her the critical break she needed. But in the second and third sets Chakvetadze was just too tough for the Slovenian.
"The first set was really up and down; I think if I had held serve at 3-all it would be the other way," Chakvetadze said after the match. "In the first set she played more aggressively than I did. Then in the second set I started to serve well and return better. On this court if you play aggressively, you have the advantage."
"She came out playing unbelievably and hitting the ball amazingly hard; I just tried to hang in there and wait for the right moments," Hantuchova said. "The strategy going in was just to be patient and wait for the right opportunities."
Chakvetadze and Hantuchova have split four career matches, including two this year. The Slovak won at Rome on red clay, while the Russian won at 's-Hertogenbosch on grass. Hantuchova won their only prior hardcourt meeting.
"It'll be much more difficult because Daniela is a great player and she's playing well," Chakvetadze added. "She has a big serve. It'll be important to serve and return well in tomorrow's match. It'll be an interesting match to watch."
"She really uses the court well and is really intelligent; she hits a bit like Martina," Hantuchova added. "This is a great opportunity for me. I have nothing to lose."
Doing battle in the other semi will be No.8 seed Sybille Bammer and unseeded Sania Mirza, who both won in straight sets on Friday. Bammer was the first to advance, racing past wild card Lilia Osterloh, 62 61, in one hour, 16 minutes.
"I just tried to play my game," Bammer said. "She played well and every game was really close, but I was just able to win more of the important points."
"I've had a great two weeks," said Osterloh, who made the Cincinnati quarters last week and took out recent Wimbledon finalist Marion Bartoli en route to the quarterfinal round here. "These last two weeks showed that when I am feeling good and healthy, I can pretty much play with anybody."
Osterloh won the 1997 NCAA national collegiate singles honors as a freshman at Stanford, so playing on the campus' courts this week brought back memories.
"It's extra special," the 29-year-old added. "Being so close to home and having so many memories of 1997 holds a special place in my heart."
In the feature night match, Mirza upset No.4 seed and returning finalist Patty Schnyder, 76(2) 61. The Indian hit her way out of a 5-2 first set deficit then took total control the rest of the match against a dejected Schnyder. After her second round upset against Tatiana Golovin, this is the first time Mirza has beaten two Top 20 players in the same event. It is also her first career Tier II semifinal.
"I just needed some time to adjust to her shots and her lefty spin," Mirza stated. "She was hitting a lot to my backhand but when you have so many backhands in a row, you're getting a rhythm. Even when I was down 5-2 it wasn't that I was playing horribly, I just wasn't used to her ball. Once I got used to it I was fine.
"I'm happy the way I converted my weakness into my strength."
Bammer and Mirza will be playing for the first time.
Both singles and doubles semifinals will take the courts Saturday. (WTA)