Top-seeded Vera Zvonareva will play Agnieszka Radwanska in the Carlsbad final.


Vera Zvonareva of Russia won the first four games of the third set, then held on for a 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 win over fifth-seeded Ana Ivanovic of Serbia in the semifinals of the Mercury Insurance Open on Saturday night. The top-seeded and third-ranked Zvonareva, who won a hardcourt event last week in Azerbaijan, will play Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland in the finals. Radwanska beat Andrea Petkovic of Germany, 4-6, 6-0, 6-4, in the other semifinal. “At the end, I came up with the good shots when I needed to,” Zvonareva said.

Zvonareva raised her game substantially as she won the first four games of the third set after losing a tough first set, then needing seven set points to finish off the second. But trailing 5-1 in the third, Ivanovic came back to win three straight games and force Zvonareva to serve for the match. The Russian, who had a match point on her serve at 5-3, finally closed the match when Ivanovic netted a forehand. “I started to play more aggressive,” Zvonareva said. “I felt like sometimes I was going for some crazy shots and making some wrong decisions. But I knew that I had to push myself to keep trying them. They didn’t work in the first set, then they started slowing working and it helped me to win the match.”

Zvonareva, the two-time Grand Slam finalist, reached her third final this season and increased her winning streak to a career-high nine matches. She forced a third set after squandering six set points before finally hitting a backhand winner to nail down the second set. The Russian broke Ivanovic’s serve in the first game of the match. The pair then held serve until Ivanovic broke back in the 10th game to even the set at 5-all. After Ivanovic held serve, she won the set when Zvonareva double-faulted on set point. “I had chances in the second set despite that she was playing well,” Ivanovic said. “She played well and she got a lot of balls back. In the third set, I struggled a little bit physically in the beginning. I started to feel better a little too late. “My arms, my legs, I just started feeling a little fatigued.”

Radwanska, seemingly still bothered by a right shoulder injury, rebounded from losing the first set by winning 10 straight games to win the second set and jump ahead 4-0 in the third. Petkovic revealed she was sick to her stomach when she took the court, and that it got worse as the match wore on. Petkovic eventually sprinted off the court during the second set to go to the bathroom so she could vomit. “Is it more embarrassing running off the court like a maniac or throwing up on court and being on SportsCenter for the next 25 years?” Petkovic asked. “Yeah, running off the court is better, so that’s what I did.” Radwanska took advantage of the situation and raised her game while Petkovic dealt with her issue. “I think I was more relaxed,” Radwanska said about losing the first set. “I just thought I have really nothing to lose. She’s playing well, this is the semifinal. I was really starting to play much better, playing aggressive, pretty much no mistakes.”

Radwanska reached her first championship match since she lost here last year to Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova. She will be seeking for her first title since 2008 and her fifth overall.


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