Alisa Kleybanova of Russia beat defending champion Jelena Jankovic of Serbia 6-4, 6-3 Friday to advance to the semifinals of the Kremlin Cup.
The upset came a day after the second-seeded Jankovic took the last spot for next week’s season-ending WTA Championships in Doha, Qatar.
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Jankovic dropped serve in the fifth game of each set. Down 5-3 in the second set, Jankovic double-faulted twice to lose the match.
The Serb said she found it tough to move her opponent around because of Kleybanova’s low-bouncing shots.
“It was a difficult match for me, but I tried my best today,” Jankovic said. “Unfortunately, she was the better player today.”
Kleybanova, who will play either Olga Govortsova of Belarus or Vera Zvonareva of Russia, said her powerful style didn’t allow Jankovic to get into the match.
“I beat her in Toronto earlier this year and I wanted to win in two sets today to prove that victory was not a fluke,” Kleybanova said.
Eighth-seeded Francesca Schiavone of Italy advanced with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Russia’s Maria Kirilenko.
Schiavone, the 2005 runner-up, will next play Alona Bondarenko of Ukraine, who ousted Bulgarian qualifier Tsvetana Pironkova 6-3, 6-3.
The 24th-ranked Schiavone dominated against Kirilenko to reach her fifth semifinal this season.
“I think she (Kirilenko) fought a lot,” Schiavone said. “But I was fast, I was aggressive, I was very determined – with those things together I’m tough to be beaten. But I respect Maria, she was playing very good at the end of this season. I had to do my best to beat her.”
The 36th-ranked Bondarenko won four consecutive games in the first set and broke Kirilenko decisively in the eighth game of the second.
“It was not an easy win,” Bondarenko said of Friday’s match. “I played her (Pironkova) several times and she is playing in a bit (of a) different way now. I didn’t expect her to be so strong from the right.”
Pironkova upset top-seeded Vera Zvonareva of Russia in Thursday’s second round.
Bondarenko, who beat Schiavone in Luxembourg in 2006 for her only career title, will be playing in her third semifinal this season.
In the men’s tournament, sixth-seeded Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia advanced to his first semifinal this season by beating Robby Ginepri of the United States, 6-3, 6-3.
The 20th edition of the dual ATP and WTA Kremlin Cup has a weakened women’s draw because seven of the world’s top players had qualified for the Doha Championships before the Moscow tournament and opted to skip it.