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Kirilenko and Giorgi make breakthroughs

by Benjamin Snyder
Friday 29 June 2012

A former Australian Open quarter-finalist in 2010, Maria Kirilenko entered her match against Romania’s Sorana Cirstea having dropped just seven games in her first two matches, a distinction shared with No. 2 Victoria Azarenka. The Russian continued her fine form in the third round, defeating her opponent in straight sets in just over an hour.

Striking 15 winners and committing five unforced errors through the match, Kirilenko proved the fiercer and more experienced player on the big stage and on her opponent’s serve. Down 3-5, the former Roland Garros quarter-finalist Cirstea struggled to hold serve again. At deuce, Kirilenko struck a cross-court backhand passing shot for her third backhand winner of the match and first set point. Cirstea, however, fought back and lined up a winner, one of 19 total for her, to level the score to a fourth deuce.

On the next point, a Cirstea backhand into the net earned the Russian a third set point chance. Taking the opportunity, Kirilenko claimed the set by forcing Cirstea into a forehand error. Over the course of the set, the Russian won 100% of her first serve points, making 65% of her first serves in the process.

Sporting a small, silver heart-shaped pendant around her neck, the Russian proved too strong in the second set against her No. 52 opponent. In just 28 minutes, Kirilenko rattled off five straight games, allowing Cirstea one game before serving for the match. With a returned serve dumped into the net, Kirilenko claimed the victory and her best showing at the All England Club in nine attempts.

Meanwhile, in other action in the ladies’ event, a seed faltered as qualifier Camila Giorgi of Italy powered past Kirilenko’s doubles partner, Nadia Petrova, in straight sets. The diminutive Giorgi, standing at 5ft 6in, matched Petrova’s big-hitting shot-for-shot. Playing attacking tennis and reeling off more than double the number of winners (25 to Petrova’s 12), the 20-year old committed just 10 errors.

Previously, Giorgi defeated the top-seeded Petrova in Memphis earlier this year in straight sets. Today, Giorgi took the first set 6-3, but struggled to maintain her form in the second. Down 4-1, the Italian reeled off the next four games before prompting a second set tie-break. She won that after 14 points and is set to face the No.3 seed Agnieszka Radwanska next. Looking ahead, Giorgi said in a press conference after the match, “It will be an interesting match. It will be a good match."

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