Samantha Stosur staved off a determined comeback by Romania's Monica Niculescu to book a spot in the final four at the Qatar Open.
The Australian third seed advanced to her first semi-final of the year with the 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 win.
Stosur, the reigning US Open champion, won in a little short of two hours after totally losing her momentum in the second set and surviving a tough spell in the third when Niculescu took three games in a row to level at 3-3.
Niculescu had a wonderful opportunity to break Stosur in the seventh game when she was leading 30-0, but sent an easy volley long after a lengthy rally to give the Australian the opening she was looking for.
World number one Victoria Azarenka won her 15th consecutive match of the season to also make the semi-finals, a year after she almost quit the sport.
The Belarusian star defeated Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium 6-0, 6-4 to stay on course for a third title this year, after victories at Sydney and the Australian Open.
Azarenka lost in the first round to Daniela Hantuchova in Doha last year, and after another lacklustre show in Dubai, where she was beaten by Flavio Pennetta, she had become so demoralised that she even considered quitting the sport for good.
"Last year by this time I was a little bit of a mess. I couldn't control any of my emotions, and I didn't really enjoy playing tennis," she added.
"I lost a really, really bad match here and a few before that. It was just not fun for me to do, because I'm the type of player that plays with a lot of passion, a lot of desire.
"Every time I was stepping on the court, it was a misery to me. So I just told my mom, I don't want to play anymore because it's not fun.
"She's like 'You know what? I think maybe you're tired, you're burned out. Just come home and see what happens'.
"And then a few long talks with my grandmother and I kinda bounced back. I realised there are more important things in life than just losing a tennis match."
France's Marion Bartoli defeated in-form Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic 7-5, 4-6, 6-1.
Bartoli ended Safarova's giant-killing run, but not before conceding the second set, and gave credit to her fitness.
"The turning point was my fitness," the Frenchwoman said.
"I was fitter than her and that helped me win the match."
Safarova had knocked out former world number one Caroline Wozniacki on her way to the last eight.
In the night match, fourth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland thrashed Christina McHale of the United States 6-1, 6-1 to set up a semi-final clash with Azarenka.
The other semi-final will be played between Stosur and Bartoli.
AFPTags: tennis, sport, qatar, australia First posted February 18, 2012 08:44:29