Tennis fans at the Dusit Thani Resort in Pattaya were in for a treat on Thursday as the match of the tournament so far took place on court No. 1 between defending champion Vera Zvonareva and sixth seeded Shuai Peng from China.
Peng had shown her fighting capabilities in the previous round when she recovered from a poor first set to defeat Elena Baltacha. This time the opposition – the world number three and Wimbledon and US Open finalist – was made of sterner stuff, but Peng once again rose to the challenge.
Vera Zvonareva unleashes a fierce forehand in her quarter-final match against China’s Shuai Peng.
Games went with serve in the opening set until Peng was broken at 4-4 when she was forced into a backhand error. After the Russian had served out the set Peng received a visit from the trainer, and later wore a large patch on her right knee. Whatever the problem was it didn’t affect her mobility, as after Zvonareva broke to lead 2-1 she broke back to level at 3-3 and then broke again for the set when Zvonareva double-faulted.
Zvonareva once again took an early lead in the final set, breaking for 1-0, and Peng once again leveled at 3-3. After Peng held for 4-3 Zvonareva found herself under enormous pressure as she fell behind 15-40 on her own serve, but she survived that crisis to hold for 4-4 and then went on to break for 5-4 with a powerful winning forehand. Even then the battle wasn’t over, as Zvonareva had to fight off two more break points before closing out the closest of matches.
“I like to play tough matches. I like tough challenges. I enjoy it and that’s why I’m a tennis player,” said Zvonareva. “Definitely she (Peng) is a very good player, a very tough opponent and I think she has improved a lot.
Peng produced a great performance to push the World No.3 player all the way.
While Zvonareva survived, second seeded Serb Ana Ivanovic did not. She struggled throughout the match against Italian fifth seed Roberta Vinci, dropping her serve in the first game and losing it again after she had broken back. Vinci served for the first set at 5-4 and, although Ivanovic leveled at 5-5, Vinci managed to break yet again and served out the set at her second opportunity.
The second set was similar to the first, with Vinci maintaining a slender lead. Ivanovic had a fine opportunity to get back on level terms when she held a break point for 4-4, but Vinci held and then broke Ivanovic again to claim a 7-5, 6-3 victory.
Like Peng, eighth seeded Italian Sara Errani had fought back in the previous round, recovering from 6-2, 5-2 down against Ayumi Morita. This time she fell behind again, dropping the first four games against qualifier Galina Voskoboeva, who had earlier caused the upset of the tournament by dismissing third seed Maria Kirilenko. But again she rallied to win in three sets, overcoming the Kazak 2-6, 6-3, 6-2.
An Italian finalist is now guaranteed, with Vinci and Errani meeting in one semi-final.
The second semi-final today (Saturday) will be between Zvonareva and fourth seed Daniela Hantuchova, after the Slovak saw off Uzbekistan’s Akgul Amanmuradova 6-2, 6-0 in just 51 minutes. (Source Pentangle Promotions)
Sara Errani serves to Galina Voskoboeva.
Roberta Vinci defeated an out of sorts Ana Ivanovic in straight sets.
Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia returns the ball to Uzbekistan’s Akgul Amanmuradova.