Amelie Mauresmo rallied to win a 20-point first-set tiebreaker en route to a 7-6 (9), 2-6, 6-3 quarterfinal victory over top-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova at the Pilot Pen tennis tournament.
Mauresmo started off slowly, losing the first three games of the match on Thursday. But she broke Kuznetsova in the seventh game of the set to force the tiebreaker and then survived five set points. "I gave her chances to come back," Kuznetsova said. "She didn't have many possibilities to play. I let her come back into the match. She started to play very well."
Kuznetsova easily won the second set, but Mauresmo went up 4-2 in the third, then battled back from three break points on her own serve.
"I was just going for it, trying to be aggressive," Mauresmo said. "Not too much panicking."
The 30-year-old Frenchwoman came into this tournament ranked 18th in the world and seeded eighth. But it's a tournament in which she has flourished, reaching the for the second consecutive year, and the fourth time in nine tries.
"Just before the Open, I start to really play better, feel good physically, try to find a few things in my game," she said. Kuznetsova became the second top seed to fall, after Sam Querrey used 15 aces to beat Russia's Nikolay Davydenko 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 in the men's draw earlier in the day.
Querrey trailed 15-40 at 4-all in the third set. From there, he finished off Davydenko by taking eight straight points, including two aces for a 5-4 lead before breaking him at love. Querrey, who will head into the U.S. Open as the second-highest ranked American man, opened the match with two aces, won eight consecutive points and was up 3-0 early.
Davydenko needed a trainer to look at his right wrist midway through the match. He said it became sore from the force of Querrey's serves hitting his racket.
Second-seed Fernando Verdasco had no problems in his quarterfinal, ousting Jurgen Melzer in straight sets 6-3, 6-1. He will play a semifinal against Igor Andreev, who beat Leonardo Mayer 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-3.
Defending women's champion Caroline Wozniacki had a much easier time, beating Virginie Razzano in straight sets 6-4, 6-3. Wozniacki seemed to have a harder time with a bee, which chased her around the court during the fourth game of the second set. "It just kept attacking me," she said. "I was trying to hit it with the racket, but still it didn't give up," she said. "It kind of felt like my opponent didn't want it to give up in the match; the bee didn't want to give up either."
Wozniacki will play Flavia Pennetta in Friday's semifinals. Pennetta beat qualifier Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia 6-2, 6-2. Elena Vesnina earned the first spot in the women's semifinals with a 6-1, 7-5 win over Anna Chakvetadze, her first victory in six head-to-heads.
Vesnina will play Mauresmo on Friday night.