Serena reaches semis, reclaims top ranking

February 16, 2013 - 5:57:03 am



Serena Williams of the United States poses with a trophy given to her by the WTA Tour after the 31-year-old American reclaimed the world number one ranking following her WTA Qatar Open tennis quarter-final match against Czech Republic’s Petra Kvitova, yesterday. 

BY RIZWAN REHMAT

DOHA: American tennis star Serena Williams yesterday belied her advancing age to reclaim the world number one ranking by edging Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic in the quarter-finals of the Qatar Open.

The 31-year-old rallied from a set down to win 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 and then broke down in tears after securing a berth in today’s semi-finals of the $3.69m event.

Serena has now won 59 of her last 62 matches, a stretch dating back to the beginning of the clay court season last April.

The only three losses were to Virginie Razzano (French Open first round), Angelique Kerber (Cincinnati quarter-finals) and Sloane tephens (Australian Open quarter-finals).

When the WTA Tour rankings are released on Monday, Serena will become the oldest player ever to be No.1 and give her a 124th career week at the top spot, a total only bettered by five of her fellow WTA legends: Steffi Graf (377), Martina Navratilova (332), Chris Evert (260), Martina Hingis (209) and Monica Seles (178).

In the semi-finals today, second seed Serena - winner of 15 Grand Slam titles - will meet third seed Maria Sharapova of Russia.

Yesterday, Sharapova relied on her booming serve to crush Australia’s Samantha Stosur to reach her second semi-finals of the new season with a 6-2, 6-4 win.

If Sharapova beats Serena today and wins the Qatar Open title tomorrow, she would bag the big prize - the Diamond Ball for completing a hat-trick of wins in Doha.

“I am so sensitive nowadays and I am always crying,” Serena said as tears started rolling down her cheeks. “I never thought I’d be here again,” Serena added. 

“Oh my God, I have been through so much so I never thought I would be here. Thank you so much for giving me another chance,” Serena said while pointing towards the night sky.

“I don’t know how I did it. I just hung in there. She was playing so good,” Serena said after the three-set win. 

“She was hitting winners from all angles. I couldn’t start well so I thought at least I should stay in there,” the American said.

“The crowd was amazing. When I was down, the crowd was cheering for me and I don’t get that a lot,” she recalled after firing 12 aces in the three-set thriller. Kvitova, who had never beaten Serena in three previous Tour meetings, broke Serena in game six to easily wrap up the first set in 41 minutes. 

In the second set, Serena fought her way back by breaking Kvitova in game eight to draw level in the match. In the deciding set, Serena broke her Czech rival in games three, seven and 11 to surge ahead at 6-5.  

Moments later, Serena wrapped up the match and the number one ranking on her own serve and celebrated the match point by raising her index finger, knowing she had returned to the top of women’s tennis.

Earlier, four-time Grand Slam champion Sharapova fired 12 aces, including seven in the deciding set, to win 6-2, 6-4 in 1 hour 22 minutes.

It was Sharapova’s 12th win over 2011 the US Open champion in 14 matches between the two on the Tour. 

Yesterday, world number one Victoria Azarenka of Belarus hammered sixth seed Sara Errani of Italy, winning 6-2, 6-2. 

It was Azarenka’s fifth win over Errani in six matches between the two players on the women’s Tour.

Azarenka will now play fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland in the semi-final. 

Yesterday, Radwanska beat Wozniakcki 6-2, 7-5. 

The world number one was delighted with her outing against Errani.

“I felt really good in the match. I think we both played some good

tennis tonight,” Azarenka said. “There were some long, exciting rallies for me. I was surprised that I made those rallies,” she added.

Semi-finalist at the Australian Open last month, Sharapova broke her opponent in the very first game of the match and then repeated the dose in game five as Stosur wilted under pressure with a couple of lazy long returns and one unforced error.

 Stosur saved a set point in game seven but the euphoria proved to be short-lived as Sharapova fired two aces in game eight to take the first set at 6-2.

In the second set, Sharapova raced to a 3-1 lead. The Russian was 5-3 up and another two in the final game to win the set and the match. THE PENINSULA

 
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