Cool, blustery weather is not what the world’s best tennis players have come to expect at the Sony Open, but that is what they had to contend with on Wednesday.
The tough conditions wreaked havoc with the women’s quarterfinal match between Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova and Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska. The 10th-seeded Cibulkova managed to win 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3 despite committing 51 unforced errors, being broken 10 times and committing eight double faults.
Cibulkova fought off three match points to upset the No. 3 seed. It is the first time she reaches the semis in eight tries in Key Biscayne.
“I have to say I’m really glad, especially about my win today,” said Cibulkova, who moves into the top 10 with the win. “It wasn’t easy at all to play today against Aga with the wind and conditions and I had to stay aggressive all the time even if I missed many shots.’’
The players traded breaks for the first five games, and it was clear both players were uncomfortable.
“It was so close, but I think, you know, in those matches you have to play good and you have to be lucky,’’ Radwanska said. “I was just playing good and she was both.”
Radwanska was playing with her right shoulder and left knee taped.
Cibulkova will play No. 2 Li Na, the Australian Open winner, who beat Caroline Wozniacki 7-5, 7-5 in the evening match. Li is the first Chinese woman to reach the Key Biscayne semifinals. She is having a stellar year so far, going 20-2 and she is 6-0 lifetime against Cibulkova.
Li said she felt relieved to get past Wozniacki, whom she considers one of the best defenders on the tour.
“I was feeling a little bit like player against a wall,” she said. “Because it doesn't matter where it is, she always comes and puts the ball back to my court. After I was finished the match, I was feeling, ‘Wow, you doing good. You beat a wall.’ ”
Top-ranked Serena Williams, a six-time winner here, plays in the other semifinal Thursday at 1 p.m. against Maria Sharapova, who has never won in five trips to the final.
In women’s doubles, former No. 1 Martina Hingis and Sabine Lisicki needed eight match points to close out their 3-6, 7-6 (10-7) win over Anabel Medina Garrigues of Spain and Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan.
Hingis came out of retirement last year to dabble in doubles with Daniela Hantuchova, but they didn’t have much success, winning just three matches in five tournaments. She is doing better with Lisicki, one of her oldest friends. They became friends when Lisicki, of Germany, was 10 years old and went to Switzerland to train with Hingis’ mother.
“The conditions were tough, it was gusty winds,’’ said Lisicki. “You’d expect the ball to be in one place, you’d be there and a gust would take it somewhere else.’’
Hingis said he is finally feeling comfortable on the court again, and it helps to be playing with such a close friend.
“The communication makes a big difference,’’ Hingis said. “We know each other so well, both speak German and two words sometimes means a lot in doubles.’’
Asked if Hingis has any long term plans to keep playing, she smiled and said: “We are playing Friday in the semis. That’s the short-range answer.’’
Lisicki said playing doubles has helped her with singles. “To be out there playing a match is different, the tension, being out there two hours, in front of the crowd. I’m very happy ’’