Australia’s Samantha Stosur will take on Sara Errani of Italy in the French Open semi-finals after both won through in straight sets yesterday.
US Open champion Stosur powered past Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia 6-4, 6-1, while 21st-seed Errani saw off Angelique Kerber of Germany 6-3, 7-6 (7/2). The two remaining quarter-finals will be held today with second-seed Maria Sharapova of Russia taking on Kaia Kanepi of Estonia and fourth-seed Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic going up against qualifier Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan.
The sixth-seeded Stosur had too much firepower and experience for the lightweight 23-year-old Cibulkova and was only briefly under pressure in the second game of the second set when she stood at 0-40 on her serve.
“It’s never easy to come out here in windy conditions and playing an opponent who was going for it,” said Stosur. “She runs very fast and has quick legs. The last few years have been good for me in Paris. It doesn’t get any better than this.”
“I’m going to play aggressive and try and play my game,” said the 28-year-old from Queensland, who is the reigning US Open champion. “I’ve had success against Errani in the past, but, you know, semi-finals of Roland Garros is a whole new ballgame. I think this is probably the breakthrough year for her, making the quarter-finals of the Australian Open, and now here. She’s having a good year. You’ve got to respect that and be aware of that.
“Being Australian, there is a little bit more pressure playing there, but hopefully one day I’ll be able to handle it better.”
The last Australian woman to win at Roland Garros was Margaret Court in 1973.
Asked about the state of Australian tennis, which has no male contender at Roland Garros, Stosur said there was no ’major issue’ and ‘there was a really good crop of young juniors coming through’.
“We have had great players in the past, but I think it all goes around in cycles. We have had that bit of a dip now, but it’s getting better and it’s growing.”
Errani continues magic run
In the other quarter-final, Errani continued her tremendous run in the tournament with a 6-3, 7-6 (7/2) win over German Kerber.
Errani’s upset win over hard-hitting Kerber made sure of Italian representation in the semi-finals at Roland Garros for the third year in succession. A slight figure on tour at just 1.64m, Errani had never got beyond the third round of a major event before this year’s Australian Open when she reached the quarter-finals.
But the 25-year-old from Bologna illustrated her danger-woman status by winning three clay court titles in Acapulco, Barcelona and Budapest in the run-up to Paris. That confidence was translated into her Roland Garros semi-final run which saw her defeat 2008 champion and former world number one Ana Ivanovic and 2009 winner Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Errani and 10th-seed Kerber, who reached a maiden Grand Slam semi-final at the US Open last year, both struggled for any fluency in the second set as eight successive breaks of serve showed that nerves were beginning to show.
Kerber squandered two set points at 6-5, the first saved by an exquisite Errani drop shot, and was left to regret it as the Italian raced away with the tiebreaker, securing victory when the German went wide with a second service return.
Bryans through to semis
In the men’s doubles draw, second-seeds Bob and Mike Bryan went past Australian Oliver Marach and Argentine Horacio Zeballos 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 to move into the semi-finals.
Meanwhile, in the women’s doubles draw, the Russian pairing of Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova got beat third-seeds Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova 6-3, 6-4 in the quarter-finals.
“The last few years have been good for me at Roland Garros. It does not get any better than this. In the semi-final tomorrow, it could be a great day or a bad day for me.”
“Samantha kept hitting balls with great height at me. The force she put in her shots made her hard to handle. Her kick-serve got me out of the court so much that I could not do anything.”
“I don’t have the power of the big girls so I have to use speed, resistance and use my head because it can be difficult for me when an opponent is stronger. I need to be mentally strong to win”
“I’m useless with any game plans I decide with my coach. That’s probably the one thing he gets so frustrated with me about. I go out there and I do my own thing.”
Published in The Express Tribune, June 6th, 2012.
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