Daniela-Maria, Kory-Keothavong meet in Sunfeast semis

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Kolkata, Sep 21 (UNI) Second seed Slovak beauty Daniela Hantuchova and fourth seed Russian fashion icon Maria Kirilenko will meet in the semi-finals of the Sunfeast Open tomorrow, making it the virtual final of the tournament.

Mariya Koryttseva of Ukraine and British girl Anne Keothavong set up the other semi-final clash of the meet.

Daniela defeated Huan-Jan Chan 6-4, 6-1 to move into the semi-finals.The match began on an even note. Chan seized the early initiative breaking Daniela in the third game with a double-handed backhand down the line. Daniela broke even in the sixth game with a trademark drop volley.

But Chan broke back again raising visions of another upset.

But the seasoned pro knew a trick or two more than the rookie and showed why is she in the top ten bracket. She broke her opponent back and held serve to take the lead for the first time in the match. Then, in the 10th game she sent down a couple of cross court stunners that sealed the set 6-4 in her favour.

In the second set Hantuchova got the measure of Chan. The scurrying runs along the baseline and down-the-line backhands were nullified with camouflaged drop volleys from the deep.

Daniela also made it a point to run around the returns from Chan and convert her backhands into rasping forehands both as passing shots and cross-court winners. She broke Chan in the fourth and sixth games to seal the set 6-1.

As Chan's drop-volley found the net and fell on the same side of the court, the motley crowd rose in applause as Daniela graciously accepted her victory. After the match Daniela said, "In the first set I was out of sorts. But in the second I got back into the groove." "I miscued a few drop volleys in the first set," she added.

"It took me longer to get used to her game. I didn't play her before. She was also returning well. So I tried to be more patient in the second set," she said when asked to comment on Chan.

Commenting on her fifth semi-final of the year, she said, "Yes, I hope that it goes well." On Kirilenko as an opponent, Daniela said, "She is a good player and it will be an interesting match. She is playing well and I have to play well, I know." Fourth seed Maria Kirlienko sailed into the semi-finals of the Sony Ericcson Tier III WTA Sunfeast Open here today when she brushed off the challenge from Italian Flavia Pennetta.

The only Russian to advance to the last-four stage, she defeated her opponent easily 6-3, 6-1.

She nullified Penetta's baseline game by charging to the net often enough and the Italian had no answer to this strategy. She caved in and the match was almost gifted away when she double faulted in the seventh game of the second set, failing to hold her serve and losing the match.

Kirilenko broke Penetta in the second game but was broken back immediately. However, a crucial break in the ninth game helped the Russian to wrap up the first set at 6-3. The second set saw her in her elements, as she raced to a 5-0 lead. Pennetta sort of delayed the inevitable by breaking her in the sixth game, only to be broken in the seventh again to lose the set at 1-6.

Following the match, Kirilenko said, "I am playing good tennis over the week. I am feeling good. I am playing better with each match." "I guess Pennetta lost her focus in the second set. She had a problem with a couple of calls I guess," she said.

"The first set she played well, but the second one I stepped up and that made the difference,".

Commenting on the semi-final line up and her meeting with Hantuchova, she said, "Daniela is a great player. She has beaten me all the times I have played her. But I am playing good tennis.

It is going to be a tough match." "Till now I have done well and come to continue the good work," she said.


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