Pavlyuchenkova, Ivanovic reach semis in Cincinnati - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Pavlyuchenkova, Ivanovic reach semis in Cincinnati

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (AP Photo) Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (AP Photo)

MASON, Ohio (AP) - Down 5-1 in the opening set on a heat-baked court that felt more like a griddle, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova started to think about the second set. Turned out that this one was far from over.

Taking advantage of a heat-drained opponent, the 19-year-old Russian rallied for a 7-5, 3-6, 6-1 win over Yanina Wickmayer on Friday afternoon, reaching the semifinals of the Cincinnati Open and extending one of the best stretches of her career.

On-court temperatures have registered 120 degrees the last couple of days, with oppressive humidity that made it tough to breathe after long points.

"It was really tough conditions today," Pavlyuchenkova said.

Serbia's Ana Ivanovic had an easier time getting past qualifier Akgul Amanmuradova, winning 6-3, 6-1 in only 56 minutes.

The $2 million Western & Southern Financial Group Women's Open has only one of its top nine seeds left - No. 4 Kim Clijsters, who returned to tennis in Cincinnati last year. Serena and Venus Williams dropped out with injuries before the tournament began, and five of the top eight seeds were knocked out on Thursday.

When the quarterfinals opened a day later, another seeded player melted away.

Wickmayer appeared to be in control in the first set, up 5-1 against a player feeling sluggish in the heat. At that point, Pavlyuchenkova was just trying to get into a rhythm for what came next.

"I just tried to find my game for the next set," she said.

The first one was just getting interesting. Standing at the other baseline, Wickmayer started feeling the strain of pushing so hard in the heat to get that big lead. Her legs felt shaky. Her game began to unravel.

"I started off really well in the first set, got really tired after that," she said. "And she came back and put up a great fight."

Pavlyuchenkova dominated the start of the third set, giving up only five points while pulling ahead 4-0 and setting up her ninth straight win. The Russian is coming off a title at Istanbul, making this the best stretch of her career.

Asked if she has the energy to keep going, she said, "I don't know. We'll see tomorrow."

Amanmuradova pulled off the biggest upset of the tournament, knocking off top-seeded Jelena Jankovic in two sets on Thursday. It was the best career win for the 26-year-old Amanmuradova, who is ranked No. 114 and had never beaten a Top 10 player.

Ivanovic didn't let her get any momentum, breaking her serve to go up 2-0.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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