Stage Set for Explosive Semifinals at Qatar Total Open
17 Feb 2012

The stage is set for the semi-finals of the Qatar Total Open after five

intense days of high quality tennis.

 One of the players to qualify for the semifinals is world No.1 Victoria

Azarenka of Belarus. The top seed easily Friday packed off unseeded

Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium in straight sets.

Azarenka - who is unbeaten in 15 matches this season - sealed the

one-sided match 6-0, 6-4 in only 68 minutes on the Centre Court. 

The Minsk-born right-hander fired three aces in the match that she

dominated from the first serve. 

Azarenka - the Australian Open champion - broke a nervous-looking

Wickmayer in games 1, 3 and 5 to win the first set in just 20 minutes.

Serving with precision, Azarenka gleefully accepted 11 unforced errors

from Wickmayer in the first set. 

In the second set, both player traded a service break each - in games

5 (Azarenka) and 6 (Wickmayer) to draw level at 3-all. Azarenka relied

on a strong baseline game for her second service break in game 9 to go

5-4 up. A long return on match point gave Azarenka her 15th consecutive

win this season. 

"I am always trying to do my best on court," Azarenka said. "I am glad

to be at a level where I can dominate on court. I am playing good

tennis at the moment," she added. " 

Also Friday, third seed Samantha Stosur of Australia reached the

semifinals of the Qatar Total Open with a three-set win over unseeded

Monica Niculescu of Romania. Stosur, the US Open champion, won 6-2,

2-6, 6-3 in one hour 44 minutes on Centre Court.


The Australian wasted little time in winning the first set, easily

dominating her 24-year-old rival still without a title on Tour. Stosur

combined her strong serves with a sound baseline game to break

Niculescu in games two and four to race away to a 5-1 lead. The

Romanian broke Stosur in game 7 when the Australian sent two easy

returns long at 30-all. 

In the second set, Niculescu rallied in fine style, breaking

27-year-old Stosur in the first game and then later in game 5 to walk

off with a 6-2 card to tie the match. The Romanian surprised Stosur

with strong first serves to pocked the second set.


In the decider, Stosur broke the Romanian in games 2 and 8 and then

held serve in game 9 to win the third set 6-3. The Australian sealed

victory with a powerful forehand on match point.


"It was an up and down match for both of us," Stosur said after

qualifying for her first semifinal of the year. "We ran a lot and I was

fortunate to pick up my game at the end of second set. I think my

serves also picked up at the end and I finished off strongly. I

believed in myself. I backed myself to win this match," the 2011 US

Open champion added.


It was Stosur's third win over Niculescu in as many meetings on the WTA

Tour. Stosur fired seven aces in the match.