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Petrova faces doubles partner Groenefeld in Charleston

Written by: Staff
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CHARLESTON, SC Apr 15 (Reuters) Nadia Petrova, seeking back-to-back WTA Tour titles, will play her doubles partner Anna-Lena Groenefeld in the Family Circle Cup semi-finals.

The second seeded Russian earned a commanding 6-2 6-0 victory over unseeded Colombian Catalina Castano yesterday to set up the clash with the in-form 20-year-old Groenfeld.

The hard-serving German, seeded sixth, survived 13 double faults to triumph 6-3 7-6 over fourth-seeded Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova, the 2004 US Open winner who won at Miami last month to claim her first Tier I title.

Top seed and defending champion Justine Henin-Hardenne of Belgium will play the winner of yesterday's Patty Schnyder-Nathalie Dechy match in the other semi-final.

Henin-Hardenne defeated Russia's Dinara Safina 6-4 6-1 to give her a 14-0 career record on Charleston's green clay.

Petrova needed only 61 minutes to oust Castano.

''I really dominated my games,'' said Petrova, who won last week at Amelia Island. ''I had everything in my hands.

SHORT POINTS ''She played a few good points but I must say I just didn't let her play the tennis she likes.

''She likes the heavy balls, to move a lot on the court. I just tried to make the points as short as possible.'' Petrova is 3-1 against Groenefeld in singles competition but they have not met so far in 2006.

Groenefeld, who will be playing in her first Tier I semi-final, has won 14 of her last 17 matches on tour.

''I hit a lot of double faults,'' she said, ''but overall I think I played very aggressive, hit a lot of good shots, winners. I was always inside the court and not letting her dictate. That, I think, was the key.'' Kuznetsova has played this week with a heavy wrap over a hip abductor strain that forced her to retire during a semi-final last week at Amelia Island and she has also been putting ice packs on her right elbow after matches.

Henin-Hardenne must reach the final to retain her number three ranking behind number one Amelie Mauresmo and compatriot Kim Clijsters. She will drop to fourth with a loss today.

Despite her defeat, world number 48 Castano enjoyed a fine tournament. She upset fifth-seeded Czech Nicole Vaidisova and became the first Colombian to reach the quarter-finals of a Tier I event since Fabiola Zuluaga in 2004 at Berlin.

REUTERS PG BD0422

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