>> Friday, May 11, 2012
From 64 to 4 players - 3 of them expected, but no one would have guessed on the fourth semi-finalist. And so, the 2012 Mutua Madrid Open is drawing to a close and no one is surprised that Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka and Agnieszka Radwanska remain. What's surprising is the success of Czech qualifier Lucie Hradecka this week. Hradecka has not beaten a top 10 player before this week, but her stellar play has enabled her to down two current Grand Slam champions back-to-back and earn her a shot at 13-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams. Watch the 2012 Mutua Madrid Open women's semifinals live featuring Azarenka vs Radwanska and Serena vs Hradecka here.
Victoria Azarenka and Agnieszka Radwanska will go head to head for an incredible sixth time already this year in the semifinals of the Mutua Madrid Open, after both survived tough quarterfinals Friday. The No.1-seeded Azarenka was the first of the pair to move into the final four, rallying from a set and a break down and fighting for almost two hours to defeat No.8 seed Li Na, 36 63 63. Li won the first set and broke in the first game of the second set, but Azarenka took four games in a row to take control of the second set, then went on another run of four games to kick off the third set.
Next for Azarenka is No.4 seed Radwanska, who held off American qualifier Varvara Lepchenko in a one-hour, 43-minute grinder, 64 64. Radwanska originally led 5-2 in both sets, with Lepchenko closing the gap to 5-4 both times; but the World No.3 snuck out breaks right away both times to prevail. Radwanska will rise to No.2 in the world if she wins the title in Madrid.
Hradecka continued her shock run through the Mutua Madrid Open, following up her second round upset over reigning Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova with a 76(8) 76(6) quarterfinal stunner over reigning US Open champion Sam Stosur - and firing 19 aces. Though she came into Madrid ranked No.105, Hradecka has seen much higher heights, having gone as high as No.41 in the world last summer. She brought out her best in her upset of World No.4 Kvitova earlier in the week, and she did it all over again against World No.5 Stosur, keeping the pressure on in a tight first set tie-break and closing it out on her fourth set point, then saving a set point in the second set tie-break. Neither player was broken in 24 service games.
Next up is No.9 seed Serena Williams, who followed her third round win over No.6 seed Caroline Wozniacki with a 61 63 demolition of No.2 seed Maria Sharapova, blasting 11 aces to extend her win streak against the Russian to seven matches (it was also her sixth straight win against a Top 2 player). Williams is now 11-0 on clay this year, losing just one set in the process (during the aforementioned win over Wozniacki, which ended in a 16 63 62 scoreline). Williams beat Hradecka in their only previous meeting, last summer in Cincinnati, but it was a photo finish - Williams was leading, 63 51, but eventually won, 63 76(5).
2012 Mutua Madrid Open - Saturday, May 12, 2012 Schedule
Manolo Santana (from 10.45hrs)
1. Victoria Azarenka vs. Agnieszka Radwanska
2. Lucie Hradecka vs. Serena Williams
Watch the 2012 Mutua Madrid Open women's semifinals live online featuring Azarenka vs Radwanska and Serena vs Hradecka through TennisTv.com.