Zvonareva, Safina reach semis

Updated: January 27, 2009, 11:03 AM ET
Associated Press

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Vera Zvonareva ran off 11 straight games in a 6-3, 6-0 win over Marion Bartoli at the Australian Open on Tuesday to reach the semifinals for the first time in 25 majors.

[+] EnlargeVera Zvonareva
Quinn Rooney/Getty ImagesVera Zvonareva reached the semifinals for the first time in 25 Grand Slams.
The 24-year-old Russian's best performance in six previous trips to Melbourne was the fourth round -- she'd gone out in the first round at the Australian Open three times, including last year. And she made the quarterfinals at the 2003 French Open.

Zvonareva will meet fellow Russian Dinara Safina, who survived 11 double-faults and 36 unforced errors to beat Australia's Jelena Dokic 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 in a back-and-forth match with 11 service breaks. It's the second straight Grand Slam semifinal for Safina -- younger sister of 2005 men's champion Marat Safin -- who lost to eventual champion Serena Williams at the U.S. Open.

Seventh-seeded Zvonareva rallied from an opening service break to dominate 2007 Wimbledon finalist Bartoli in the remainder of their quarterfinal.

"I'm very excited about it," said Zvonareva, who cut her unforced errors from 15 in the first set to two in the second. "I think it was a great day for me."

She's had four 6-0 sets out of the 10 in her five straight-sets wins.

"I'm not really thinking about the scores or sets or any statistics," she said. "I'm just trying to concentrate on every match and trying my best. And I think I've been doing pretty good so far."

Bartoli of France, seeded 16th, had ousted top-ranked Jelena Jankovic in the fourth round.

"I think she played just unbelievably well," Bartoli said of the last 11 games. "She barely missed one ball after that. I was hitting as hard as I could. She was always coming back with some better shots."

Dokic's loss ended one of the tournament's most compelling stories: The former Wimbledon semifinalist was making her return to a Grand Slam after a three-year absence due to personal problems.

Safina apologized to the crowd for beating the local favorite, who advanced through a wild-card play tournament and was ranked No. 187.

"I hope that next time you'll be behind me," Safina said to the crowd.

Dokic was happy with her performance.

"There's nothing to be disappointed about," Dokic said. "It's been a great start to 2009. I couldn't have asked for anything more."


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press