Kirilenko continues to impress in California
Originally published on: 14/03/13 00:00
Kirilenko couldn’t have faced two players with more contrasting game styles to reach her fifth premier-level semi-final at the BNP Paribas Open. The Russian recovered from a set down to beat the ever-consistent and crafty world No.4 Agnieszka Radwanska in the last 16 before holding firm against the big-hitting and often unpredictable Petra Kvitova in the quarter-final, marking the first time in her career she has beaten two players ranked inside the top ten at the same event.
“The rallies with Agnieszka were so long yesterday and today [against Petra] they were much shorter,” said Kirilenko, whose last four matches have gone to three sets. “So to adapt to each player and to do it two days in a row, I'm so happy I could do that and beat both of them.”
In terms of ranking points and prize money on offer this is the biggest semi-final of Kirilenko’s career and the 26-year-old, who has finished inside the top 30 in five of the last seven seasons, is projected to rise two spots to No.13 when the rankings are updated next week.
"I have two wins over top-10 players here, and now I feel that I can be on this level,” said the former US Open junior champion. “Nothing is scary out there now. I can compete, and as you can see, I can beat them."
Kirilenko now faces fellow Russian Maria Sharapova, who beat Italian Sara Errani 7-6(6) 6-2 in a repeat of last year’s French Open final, for a place in Saturday’s final. The pair have met on six previous occasions with Sharapova leading the head-to-head 4-2.
Unbeaten world No.2 Victoria Azarenka faces Caroline Wozniacki and Sam Stosur takes on Angelique Kerber in the remaining quarter-finals later today.