Withdrawl costs Bartoli WTA finals spot
Dominika Cibulkova advanced to her second straight semifinal Friday, rallying to beat top seed Vera Zvonareva of Russia 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the quarterfinals of the Kremlin Cup.
In other quarterfinals, Kaia Kanepi upset sixth-seeded Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-1, 6-2 to set up a semifinal clash with Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic, who ousted another Russian, Vera Dushevina, 6-4, 6-4.
Earlier, Marion Bartoli of France withdrew from the quarterfinals with an illness, handing Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska a spot in the season-ending WTA Championships in Istanbul.
In the men's quarterfinals, defending champion Viktor Troicki of Serbia rallied from 0-4 down in the third set and prevailed in a tiebreaker to eliminate American Alex Bogomolov Jr. 7-6 (6), 6-7 (1), 7-6 (1), while three-time winner Nikolay Davydenko of Russia advanced to the semifinals with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Germany's Michael Berrer.
Kanepi won four consecutive games to move a set up in the match. In the second set, the 43rd-ranked Estonian endured eight deuces on her serve in the sixth game, which lasted 12 minutes. She then fought off five break points and went on to win.
''I fought my best today, but I didn't attack her,'' said Kuznetsova. ''This is not my game and I understood it but couldn't change it.''
Kanepi, making her debut at the event, agreed with the two-time Grand Slam winner.
''Normally a player can play attacking tennis when the other allows him,'' Kanepi said.
Safarova, at No. 8 the only seeded women's player to reach the semis, broke Dushevina decisively in the third game of the second set.
Cibulkova, who was runner-up in Linz, Austria, last week, played with her right leg bandaged after she aggravated a knee injury in the previous match. Both players took medical timeouts in the third set — Zvonareva to treat her shoulder and Cibulkova to have her leg massaged and retaped.
The 20th-ranked Slovak trailed 5-3 in the second set but rallied to break the fifth-ranked Zvonareva in the 10th game and stay in the match. Cibulkova said she lost the first set because she was not aggressive enough on her second serve.
''In the second set I just said, 'OK, come on, you have to play 100 percent and also to go for second serve.' And you have nothing to lose. And it just paid off,'' Cibulkova said.
Serving in the tenth game of the third set, the Russian raced ahead 40-love but could not finish and finally returned wide and long to lose the game and the match.
''You cannot go 50-50, you should decide at the right time,'' Zvonareva said. ''Maybe I should have retired, because I'm to play next week in Istanbul and then be back here for the Fed Cup.''
Zvonareva said that she had played a good match but because of the pain in her shoulder caused by an old injury and concerns about her upcoming matches she had trouble maintaining concentration.
The third-seeded Bartoli, who has not dropped a set in six matches, was scheduled to play Elena Vesnina of Russia in the first quarterfinal but pulled out because of a viral illness.
''I think just my whole body needed a break,'' Bartoli said. ''I really was trying 'til the end but yesterday during my match I already felt not very good.
''I still have a bit of energy left, so it was enough (to play), but early this morning I had so much pain in my whole body, on my neck — I couldn't even warm up,'' she said.
Vesnina said it was the first time she had advanced by a walkover at this stage of a tournament.
''It's really sad when you are not feeling good, not very healthy,'' Vesnina said. ''I saw her match yesterday, and she was playing really well.''
The 64th-ranked Russian will play Cibulkova in the semifinals.
Bartoli won her seventh career title in Osaka last weekend and needed to win the title in Moscow to secure the last open spot for next week's WTA Championships.
With Bartoli's withdrawal, Radwanska qualifies directly for the event for the first time, despite losing in the second round in Moscow. She was a substitute in 2008 and 2009.
Bartoli will travel to Istanbul and will be the first alternate.
In early men's quarterfinals, 133rd-ranked Jeremy Chardy of France landed 11 aces to beat Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany 6-4, 6-3 and make it to the semifinals for the first time since winning his first title in Stuttgart, Germany, in July 2009.