Maria Sharapova and Agnieszka Radwanska progressed into 2012 Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo after eliminating Safarova and Hampton in straight sets.
Second-seeded Sharapova pulled level in head-to-head series against sixteenth seed Czech Lucie Safarova who had defeated her third round Tokyo opponent in their only previous encounter in Madrid two years ago. The opening set was quite peculiar as Safarova gave away all of her four service games. However, Sharapova’s serving left a lot to be desired, too. The players could therefore not be separated until Sharapova claimed her third break and confirmed it to go 5-2 up. The Russian, who won her fourth Grand Slam in Roland Garros this June, generated a triple break point next, but the game was extended to twenty rallies with Sharapova finally converting her sixth set ball.
Four-time WTA champion Safarova gave her rival more to think about in the second set. The players dropped a serve each by 4-4. Three consecutive breaks followed, giving the Czech an opportunity to serve out the set, yet she was unable to get past 15-0. Sharapova clinched two early mini-breaks in the thirteenth game, but Safarova gradually made her way back. Nevertheless, losing yet another serve was more than she could afford. The favorite Russian used her second match ball to take this one with 6-2, 7-6 (5) after one hour and forty-six minutes of play. She is meeting Samantha Stosur in Tokyo quarterfinal.
In the other match, 22-year-old American Jamie Hampton took Radwanska’s serve once in each of the two sets, but fell short nonetheless. 2012 Wimbledon runner-up Pole broke Hampton in the first game, yet the result was all square again at 2-2. Radwanska then snatched another break, but had a difficult time defending the advantage throughout the rest of the set. 91st-ranked American was especially close to leveling terms at 4-5. She generated a double break point, yet in the end it was Radwanska who seized the opener with the second set ball. The fact that she was trailing by 1-4 in the set two did not break Hampton’s spirit as she won the longest game of the match to reduce a two break deficit. However, the favorite Radwanska made no mistakes afterwards and ultimately wrapped the match on the American’s serve for a 6-4, 6-3 final scoreline. A quarterfinal between Radwanska and Caroline Wozniacki will surely be a joy to watch.
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