|By: Robert Martin
||Photo Credit: Natasha Peterson / Corleve
(October 15, 2011) The best news of the week for Samantha Stosur came when she found out that new arch-nemesis Maria Kirilenko was not competing in the HP Open in Osaka. Since then the top seed has been on a winning streak continuing through Caroline Scheepers with a 6-2, 6-3 victory. She will face Zheng Jie in the semifinals after the unseeded Chinese escaped with a 0-6, 7-5, 6-3 win just before rain pounded down again.
Scheepers had her opportunities, earning four break chances, but Stosur was too strong, fending them all off by winning 75 percent of points on serve. The Australian was strong on the return as well, capitalizing with three breaks in nine chances and winning 46 percent of return points.
Since winning the US Open, Stosur had lost in two straight tournaments to Kirilenko, who made history along with Stosur in New York by winning the longest tiebreak in women’s grand slam history. After being tested in the first round by Noppawan Lertcheewakarn, Stosur has had no trouble in her last two matches, a good sign considering the lack of success following the first-time slam winners so far this year.
In the final quarterfinal of the day, Zheng took out the fourth seed, preventing a semifinal featuring the top four seeds. After being blitzed in the first set that saw Zheng win only eight points, she was able to fight back thanks to an increase of errors from Cetkovska, who hit four double faults and was broken twice in the second set.
Zheng saved her best tennis for the third set, capitalizing on her second break chance of the set and preventing Cetkovska from seeing any chance of breaking back. In fact, the unseeded player lost only two points on her serve in the last set, one being one of her two double faults for the match.
Stosur leads the series with Zheng 2-1, winning their most recent contest earlier this year in Miami 6-2, 6-1. It looks to be a busy day on Sunday where tournament directors hope to finish both the semifinal and final rounds. The weather promises to be kinder, with some potential for rain in the morning, but hopefully clear skies in the afternoon.