Tennis: Stosur, Azarenka into Qatar Open semis

AP, Friday 17 Feb 2012

U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur reached her first semifinal of the year with a 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 win over Monica Niculescu at the Qatar Open on Friday

Samantha Stosur
Stosur of Australia serves ball to Czech Cetkovska during their WTA Qatar Open tennis match in Doha

In another quarterfinal, top-ranked Victoria Azarenka defeated Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium 6-0, 6-4 for her 15th straight win.

After losing in the first round of her home Australian Open, Stosur has won three straight matches in Doha.

“It’s a really good feeling,” she said. “I guess it’s still only February, so to bounce back relatively quickly is always pleasing.”

Stosur took a 5-0 lead en route to winning the first set. But Niculescu broke Stosur twice to go up 4-1, and closed out the set to even the match. Niculescu uses lots of spin and plays with a two-handed backhand and forehand. She also was more aggressive, winning many of her points at the net and serving better.

Stosur regained the momentum in the third, leading 3-0 only to see Niculescu take advantage of errors to pull even at 3. But with Stosur serving at love-30 in the seventh game, Niculescu failed to take advantage. She missed an easy volley to let Stosur back in the game and then Stosur hit a forehand into the corner to go up 4-3. She ran off the final two games.

“For sure, I got off to a really good start and wasn’t, you know, under too much pressure at all,” Stosur said. “Then early in that second set, I feel like I missed some of those opportunities.

“I think it’s one of those matches where, when you are in control, you have to keep going and keep going and keep going.”

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