New Zealand tennis No 1 Marina Erakovic is through to her first WTA semifinal on clay after beating Czech Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 6-2 1-6 6-4 at the US$220,000 Budapest Grand Prix this morning (NZT).
Erakovic will now play her doubles partner, Russian Elena Vesnina, in the final four showdown. The pair pulled out of the doubles quarterfinals with Erakovic suffering a slight abdominal strain.
"I had to retire from the doubles this afternoon just to give me a better shot at tomorrow's semifinal,'' she said. "It's just one of those things that comes up and it's not a big issue but it's one that is an annoyance.''
She will be feeling good about the fact she beat Zahlavova Strycova, who beat Erakovic in the final of last year's WTA event in Quebec City, and also to do it on clay with the French Open coming up later this month.
She easily won the first set in 33 minutes before her game deserted her in the second set but she battled her way through an hour-long decider.
"She actually beat me in the finals of Quebec City last year so it was good to get this win and I felt I didn't play super tennis but I managed to do my best to win,'' said Erakovic, who is poised to climb next week from her career high ranking of 45.
"I was spraying quite a few balls. In the third I tried to put a few more balls in the court and just make her move a bit more. That worked out well for me. It was still tight but I managed to gain control of the third quite quickly.
"It definitely feels good to have won a few matches here and there's still another three events before Roland Garros, if I knock on wood to stay healthy and then keep going. I like the clay and I'm sure it'll be a good run.''
If Erakovic can win through to her third WTA final and second of 2012, she is likely to come up against pint-sized Italian Sara Errani who extended her winning streak on clay to 13 after her win over Alberta Brianti. Errani meets Anna Tatishvili in the other semifinal.