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By Adrianna Outlaw | Friday, August 7, 2015

 
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova rallied past Christina McHale, 2-6, 6-1, 7-6 (5), to return to the Washington, D.C. semifinals.

Photo credit: Christopher Levy

A trio of players took drastically different routes to reach the same destination in Washington, D.C.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova squeezed out a third-set tie break.

Sloane Stephens scored a straight sets sweep and Samantha Stosur barely broke a sweat.

All three advanced to the Citi Open semifinals.

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Pavlyuchenkova rallied for a tense 2-6, 6-1, 7-6 (5) decision over American Christina McHale to make the final four for the second straight week. She hit five of her nine double faults in the opening set before battling into her first Citi Open semifinal since she was tournament runner-up in 2012.

The 40th-ranked Russian will play either top-seeded compatriot Ekaterina Makarova or sixth-seeded Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu in the semifinals.

Stephens swept 19-year-old New York native Louisa Chirico, 6-4, 6-4, ending the wild card's run to her first career WTA quarterfinal. Stephens broke serve three times in the second set, advancing to her second career Washington, D.C. semifinal.

"I served really well in the first set. Second set, I got a little shaky," Stephens told Tennis Channel's Justin Gimelstob. "But I was glad to push through. I just stayed solid toward the end."

The world No. 35 took a walkover into the quarterfinals when scheduled opponent Svetlana Kuznetsova withdrew from the tournament.

"It's tough because I haven't played since Wimbledon," Stephens said. "I played one match and then a break. So it was kind of funky. I kind of didn't know what to do. I just went and practiced and played some points like I normally do. I just went out there and just tried to do my best."

The victory vaults Stephens into a semifinal rematch with 2012 U.S. Open champion Samantha Stosur. The second-seeded Aussie led 4-0 when Monica Niculescu retired with an abdominal injury after 24 minutes.

Stosur, who won her eighth career title on the red clay of Bad Gastein last month, is riding an eight-match winning streak. She beat Stephens in the Strasbourg semifinals on red clay last May.

Stephens is hoping the home crowd and hard court will help her turn the tables.

"It was on clay so it's one of her best surfaces," Stephens said. "I mean here, hard court in the U.S. in front of these amazing fans obviously.... [it's] definitely a different dynamic. I'm definitely looking forward to it."

 

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