Roberta Vinci survived a scare from Timea Babos of Hungary to reach the St Petersburg Ladies Trophy semi-finals on Friday.
Vinci broke Babos when the latter was serving for the match in the deciding set, and bounced back from 4-2 down in the tiebreak to win 7-6 (7-3) 4-6 7-6 (7-4).
Vinci struggled throughout the first and second sets, landing fewer than half of her first serves.
“She served so good, but today I played so-so. Especially at the beginning, I was so tight, so nervous,” Vinci said in televised comments. “I stayed focused and I won a great match.”
The second-seeded Vinci meets fourth-seeded Ana Ivanovic in the semi-finals after the Serb beat Ukrainian qualifier Kateryna Kozlova 6-1, 7-5. Ivanovic limited Kozlova to just 10 points in the whole of a rapid first set but faced a tougher task when Kozlova broke her serve twice in the second.
“She is a great young player, and in the second set she started to play more powerful,” Ivanovic said. “I tried to step up a bit, be more aggressive, hold my court position, and it worked well.”
In the top half of the draw Swiss top-seed Belinda Bencic was made to work by Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova but eventually prevailed 6-7 (7-4) 6-4 6-2.
Bencic will face off with unseeded Russian Daria Kasatkina, who came from a set down to defeat former Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova 4-6 7-5 6-3.