Gold Coast Semifinal Showdowns
Ai Sugiyama fiercely held on to her top seed status, defeating Magdalena Maleeva 46 76(4) 63 to advance to the semifinals of the Uncle Tobys Hardcourts.
Sugiyama got off to a slow start but was able to scoop out the win over her tough opponent. She stated, "It was hard to get into the match. She (Maleeva) wasn't giving me enough time to set up the points, and it was hard to be aggressive. After a while, I started to get a better rhythm and my footwork improved."
Sugiyama endured almost two and a half hours on court and finished late into the evening, while her next opponent will face a similar obstacle. Wildcard and hometown favorite Samantha Stosur (right) was due on court for doubles following Sugiyama's singles match.
Stosur is recording her career-best Tour event to date and feeding off her hometown crowd. The Australian has taken down two seeds in Gold Coast, including a first round win over No.4 seed Meghann Shaughnessy, followed by an impressive win over young Croatian Karolina Sprem.
Stosur secured her first Tour semifinal appearance battling No.7 seed Magui Serna before walking away the 76(1) 75 victor. Both players consistently held serve in the second set until the eleventh game, where Stosur broke Serna’s deceptive left serve. Stosur held serve the following game, giving her the match win.
"This win means a lot to me. Everyone likes to play at home, and the crowd really got me going. It was great to get the crowd excited, and they really helped me out, so that was nice. This was such a big win for me. Hopefully, this is just a start for me."
Stosur may be entering new territory, but defending champion Nathalie Dechy has made winning in Gold Coast rather routine. Dechy found her way back into the semifinals for the second straight year with a straight sets victory against Svetlana Kuznetsova. Dechy, who received a second round bye when No.8 seed Patty Schynder pulled out of the tournament with a right ankle sprain, has now won six straight matches at the event.
It's the Frenchwoman's first tournament back since the US Open last August, having been sidelined since then with left wrist tendonitis. She is feeling confident in her quest to defend her title, stating, "If I play my game like my first matches, I have a very good chance."
Dechy's toughest test could come in the semifinals where she'll face No.2 seed Nadia Petrova, a 61 64 winner against fellow Russian Dinara Safina. Petrova came back from a three game deficit at 0-3 in the second set before clinching her eighth Tour semifinal appearance.
Following her match, Petrova said, "I'm very pleased with how I played today, especially in the first set. My chances looked great, but she picked up her game and the rallies got long so I had to work my way back."