Victoria Azarenka’s hot streak continued at the Andalucía Tennis Experience, though not in the fashion she would prefer, as she advanced to the semifinals when Dinara retired with a low back injury while trailing, 5-1, in the first set.
“I feel terrible to win that way, especially against Dinara,” said the top-seeded Azarenka, who has not dropped more than three games in a set all week. “She’s been struggling with injuries for quite a while. I can’t help but feel really hurt for her. I just wish her the quickest recovery possible and hope she can play as soon as possible.
“It’s a shame because she just started to play so much better and I was really happy for her, but it’s part of the game.”
Dinara has been plagued with this back issue for a couple of years now, but was just starting to play her best tennis in a long time, as she reached the round of 16 in Indian Wells, took world No.3 Vera Zvonareva to three sets in the second round in Miami and was into her first quarterfinal since September here in Marbella.
“It was a sad end to the week. I was playing well,” said Dinara, who is now 4-2 all-time against Azarenka. “I had another problem with my back. I started to feel a pain similar to the one I used to have. I was very afraid, so I am going to have an MRI and see what that shows. I hope it’s nothing serious and that it’s just my fear, but I want to double check. It’s not as strong a pain as before, but I have a similar sensation.”
Ironically, on Saturday it was Dinara’s partner, Agnes Szavay, whose back injury forced the duo to retire during the first set of their semifinal doubles match.
Into Marbella Doubles Semis
Dinara and Agnes Szavay moved into the semifinals of the Andalucía Tennis Experience doubles event by outlasting Germans Kristina Barrois and Jasmin Woehr, 63 26 119, on Thursday.
Three times in the match tie-break, Dinara and Szavay were two points from defeat but managed to escape. This is their 10th career event together and the only other time they got at least this far is when they went all the way to the title at Gold Coast in 2008. They will play the winner of Friday’s match between Mervana Jugic-Salkic and Darija Jurak and No.3 seeds Nuria Llagostera Vives and Arantxa Parra Santonja.
Dinara is going for her second doubles title of 2011, having won Kuala Lumpur alongside Galina Voskoboeva earlier this year. She will play her singles quarterfinal on Friday against No.1 seed Victoria Azarenka.
Safina Still Sizzling
Dinara continues to play much more like the former No.1 that she is rather than the player who was ranked 117th – her lowest ranking in over eight years – as recently as February 13. After some impressive results the past few weeks, she is up to No.81 and will surely climb higher after her experience here at the Andalucía Tennis Experience, where she is now into her first quarterfinal since Seoul last September.
Dinara’s 63 64 triumph on Wednesday over Tsvetana Pironkova was an upset on paper, but hardly a surprise in that she also didn’t lose a set in either of her previous two meetings against the Bulgarian.
“I am very happy. I think it’s the first time in a while that I have won two matches in successive days,” said Dinara, who now has six victories in her past eight matches and has upped her 2011 record to 7-6. “However, I could have won both sets a little easier than I did and made it a little tougher on myself by making some stupid mistakes.”
Dinara will next play the winner of No.1 seed Victoria Azarenka and Laura Pous-Tio. She and Agnes Szavay will play their doubles quarterfinal on Thursday against Germans Kristina Barrois and Jasmin Woehr.
Moving On In Marbella
Dinara edged the Netherlands’ Arantxa Rus in 2 hours and 12 minutes in the first round of the Andalucía Tennis Experience on Tuesday, evening her record at 6-6 for the year.
Dinara, a wildcard entrant in the singles draw, dropped the first set, 6-3, but then took the first five games of the second en route to a 6-2 set. In a topsy-turvy third set, she got off to a 4-1 lead, lost three straight games and won the final two for the set, 6-4, and the match. It was her first career match-up with the 20-year-old Rus and her first-ever singles match in Marbella.
“It’s good to finally win one,” said Dinara, who had been 0-3 in three set matches this year. “Everything she hit was landing in, on the line. But I hung in there and the moment she thought that she could win she got tight and started to miss shots. So I think at the crucial moment my experience played a big part and helped me to win.”
Next up for Dinara is fifth-seeded Tsvetana Pironkova, whom she is 2-0 against.
Dinara Advances In Marbella Doubles
Dinara and Agnes Szavay, playing doubles together for the 10th time but first since last year’s French Open, upended No.2 seeds and 2009 Marbella champions Klaudia Jans and Alicja Rosolska, 61 61, in the first round of the Andalucía Tennis Experience on Monday.
The only two games Dinara and Szavay surrendered in the 51 minute match both came on Jans’ serve.
Dinara and Szavay, whose one title as a duo came at their first-ever event at Gold Coast in 2008, will play the winner of Kristina Barrois and Jasmin Woehr and Lourdes Domínguez Lino and Laura Pous-Tio in the quarterfinals.
Dinara will play Arantxa Rus in the first round of the singles event on Tuesday. She is playing here for the first time and was awarded a wildcard into the draw. She has never squared off with Rus before.