Ivanovic advances to semis
Ana Ivanovic (Gallo Images)
Birmingham - Ana Ivanovic reached her first semifinal since October by beating Mirjana Lucic 6-3, 6-4 at the Aegon Classic on Friday.
A former top-ranked player, Ivanovic dropped only three points on her service games in the first set, and struck the ball so effectively that few rallies lasted more than four shots.
The Serb withdrew from the doubles competition to minimize the chances of a recurrence of her recent wrist problems.
"It's work in progress," Ivanovic said. "I had a few disappointing losses on clay, but I am just enjoying competing again on grass.
"It brings a lot of nice memories for me," the former Wimbledon semifinalist added. "Since the first match I have felt good about myself, and my game. I am just trying to enjoy it while it lasts."
Lucic, who was playing in her second quarterfinal in three tournaments on the WTA Tour, also had reason to feel good about her week, despite the defeat.
The American-based Croatian played some fierce drives, sometimes forcing Ivanovic on to the back foot.
However she lost her serving rhythm in the eighth game, delivering four double faults, and effectively losing the set.
Lucic also dropped serve at the start of the second set, but just when it seemed Ivanovic was taking control, she too faltered and lost a game on a double fault.
Both women struggled with their service games throughout the second set but Ivanovic had the telling break to take a 5-4 lead, allowing the Serb to serve for the match.
In the semifinal, Ivanovic will play Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia who earlier ended the run of American Alison Riske.
Last year Riske came through the qualifying competition, won six matches and was awarded a Wimbledon wild card. This time around the 105th-ranked American celebrated a direct entry into the grass court Grand Slam by upsetting Aravane Rezai, the eighth-seeded French player, in the third round here.
Against Hantuchova, Riske played well, but missed her chance in the second set of a 6-2, 6-4 defeat.
The American led 4-3 and had Hantuchova at break point down in the next game. But after returning serve she missed a chance to convert the opportunity, hitting a backhand long.
Then, instead of serving to level the match at a set-all she found herself serving to save it, ending the contest with a double fault.
Daniela Hantuchova (4), Slovakia, def. Alison Riske, United States, 6-2, 6-4.
Ana Ivanovic (2), Serbia, def. Mirjana Lucic, Croatia, 6-3, 6-4.
Peng Shuai (3), China, def. Marina Erakovic, New Zealand, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.