Australian Samantha Stosur is the first player through to the semi-finals of the WTA’s season-ending championships in Doha despite losing her final group match against Elena Dementieva.
After earlier round-robin victories over Francesca Schiavone and world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki, Stosur only needed to win one set on Thursday to advance – and did so in a 4-6 6-4 7-6 (7-4) defeat at the Khalifa Tennis Complex.
Stosur’s semi-final opponent is yet to be decided, but it’s likely she’ll play either world No.2 Vera Zvonareva or three-time US Open champion Kim Clijsters on Saturday.
Stosur is the first Australian woman to reach the last four at a season-ending singles championship since Wendy Turnbull in 1982.
Already the owner of two season-ending doubles titles, the 26-year-old Queenslander is now bidding to join Evonne Goolagong Cawley (1974 and 1976) as only the second Australian to win a singles crown.
Stosur looked set for an early night after jumping to a 4-1 lead in the opening set against Dementieva.
A 10-times qualifier of the event, Dementieva was battling an ankle injury, coming off a 6-1 6-1 loss to Wozniacki in her opening match on Tuesday and looked out of this contest as well.
But Stosur gifted her a break in the seventh game, ending a run of 21 straight service holds for the Australian stretching back to her first set of the tournament, to rekindle the Russian’s interest.
Even after dropping the first set, Dementieva refused to go away, grabbing a further two service breaks in the second set to put the match back on level terms.
Not to be denied, Dementieva won the tiebreaker to seal the match after two hours and 42 minutes to keep her own semi-final hopes alive.
It was the fifth consecutive meeting between the two that went the distance, although not quite as dramatic as their most recent encounter when Stosur saved four match points before prevailing in a fourth-round thriller at the US Open last month.
Results on Thursday in the round-robin stage of the WTA Tour Championships here (x denotes seeding):
Elena Dementieva (RUS) bt Samantha Stosur (AUS) 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/4)
Caroline Wozniacki (DEN x1) bt Francesca Schiavone (ITA x4) 3-6, 6-1, 6-1