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Connecticut Open notebook: Larsson wins again

August 26, 2016 GMT

SEIZING THE DAY (SESSION) — The lucky loser just keeps on winning.Johanna Larsson, who lost in qualifying but took a spot in the main draw at the Connecticut Open tennis tournament when Svetlana Kuznetsova withdrew with a shoulder injury, gained a place in Friday’s semifinals after a gritty 7-6 (9), 6-1 victory over No. 2 seed Roberta Vinci Thursday on Stadium Court. It will be the third semifinal appearance (Hobart, Bastad) for the 28-year-old Swede this season.“I think I played very solid. Haven’t really given so much easy mistakes to my opponents, so they always had to play good tennis to win their points,” Larsson said. “It always helps to play many matches and to play good tennis. It helps keep you calm and you know when you go out there on court, you’re going to be a tough cookie to beat.”Thanks to an early break, Larsson took a 3-1 lead and was serving for the set at 5-3, but Vinci battled back to force a tiebreaker. Vinci jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead but Larsson regrouped and on the fourth set point chance, Larsson won the point, took the set and took the wind out of Vinci’s sails.“It was a tough match and I was battling some tendon pain in my foot,” Vinci said. “That first set was very important for my confidence. I lost two or three tough points in the tiebreaker. In the second set, I wasn’t tired but I was always thinking about my pain and I lost.”In the second set, Larsson broke Vinci’s serve four times — with Vinci double faulting on match point — to roll to the victory. Larsson will face No. 10 seed Elina Svitolina in the semifinals.“I could see like in the mid-second set something was wrong,” Larsson said. “I didn’t know what it was, if she was tired or if it was injury or something. I could definitely see that her speed was slowing down, a little bit her fighting spirit as well.”In the second match of the day, Svitolina rolled past Elena Vesnina 6-3, 6-1 to make the semifinals.“I was playing quite solid and she was making more mistakes,” said Svitolina, who defeated Serena Williams in straight sets in the Olympics. “I was trying to be under control. Under control of my emotions was the key.”In her last five sets, Svitolina has lost just eight games en route to making her third semifinal of the season.“I’ve been really strong during those three matches,” she said. “I’m really happy with the way I played and served. Today was really solid performance from me.”And finally, three-time and defending CT Open champ Petra Kvitova defeated Ekaterina Makarova 6-3, 6-1 to advance.“Today, I played another good match,” Kvitova said. “I don’t know why. Maybe the court helped me. Maybe, I don’t know, I was ready to battle again. Just knew that I had to be really focusing on each point.”LOCAL GIRL DOES WELL — Fairfield’s Ellyse Hamlin, who will be a sophomore this fall at Duke, lost in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open National Playoffs mixed doubles Thursday with her partner Hleb Maslau, falling 6-4, 3-6, 10-4 to Alexandra Anghelescu and Danie Van Der Heever.“It was a lot of fun,” Hamlin said. “Hleb is a lot of fun to play with. He had so much confidence in me and is so positive, even though we lost in the tiebreaker, I found it fun. I can keep my own with the guys and that definitely gives me more confidence going back to school.”FEATURED MATCHES — Lucky loser Larsson looks for a ticket to Saturday’s finals when she faces Elina Svitolina in a semifinal match today at 1 p.m. on Stadium Court. But the marquee match will be two-time defending champion Petra Kvitova taking on top-seeded and No. 4 WTA ranked Agnieszka Radwanska in the evening semifinal at 7. After that, it’s the “legends” looking to put on a show as Andy Roddick and Mark Philippoussis (filling in for an injured Mardy Fish) play a one-set thriller in the Power Shares match, with the winner facing Fairfield’s James Blake/John McEnroe.— CHRIS ELSBERRY

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