Vakulenko upsets Mauresmo, Safina

Julia Vakulenko overcame a injured left foot on Friday to vanquish two top-10 ranked players and reach the semifinals of the German Open.

updated: May 13, 2007 14:03 IST
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Julia Vakulenko overcame a injured left foot on Friday to vanquish two top-10 ranked players - including No 2 seed Amelie Mauresmo, reaching the semifinals of the German Open.

The 53rd-ranked Ukrainian, down a set when her match with Mauresmo was suspended on Thursday because of numerous rain delays, returned Friday to win 11 of 13 games and complete a 2-6, 6-1, 6-2 victory over the third-ranked Frenchwoman to advance to the quarterfinals.

A few hours later, taking painkillers to subdue the pain in her swollen foot, she beat No 8 seed and 10th-ranked Dinara Safina 6-3, 5-7, 6-3.

"Maybe the pain helped me concentrate," Vakulenko said. "I'm very happy, but I think at my best I can win against anybody."

Vakulenko, who will be playing in only her second career semifinal and first in more than three years, next faces No. 12 Ana Ivanovic, who eliminated 15th seeded Patty Schnyder, 7-5, 3-6, 6-4.

Third-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova - a 7-6 (5), 6-4 winner against Nadia Petrova - will play the winner between top seed Justine Henin and No 5 Jelena Jankovic.

Jankovic led the quarterfinal 6-3, 4-4 before darkness suspended play. It was the day's second match for Henin, who routed Maria Elena Camerin of Italy 6-1, 6-3 in another third-round delayed a day due to the weather.

Mauresmo, a two-time German Open winner, appeared to be in control of her match with Vakulenko on Thursday when darkness forced a suspension. But the Ukrainian won seven straight games when the match resumed.

When Mauresmo finally won a game to trail 2-1 in the final set, she shook her racket and screamed. Two games later, however, she double-faulted to fall behind 4-1.

The German Open was Mauresmo's first event since an appendectomy in March.

"What can you do? What can you say? Just keep practicing," Mauresmo said. "I need the rhythm of more matches, competition. I was a step slow all day."

Mauresmo, who won Wimbledon and the Australian Open last year, says she no longer feels the same pressure to win Roland Garros as a Frenchwoman. She has never advanced past the quarterfinals.

"It's different now because I have already won grand slams," Mauresmo said. "I just need to get in some matches first. I didn't get them here."

Against Kuznetsova, Petrova let a 4-1 lead slip in the first-set tiebreaker. The two Russians will play doubles together at next year's Beijing Olympics.

"Kuze (Kuznetsova) doesn't always play consistently, but today she played very good. She can win the title here," Petrova said.