Baltacha's best win of career earns last four place

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The Independent Online

Elena Baltacha achieved the best win of her career in the Powder Byrne Trophy in Surbiton yesterday as the 17-year-old Briton moved into the semi-finals with a 6-4, 6-3 win over the third seed, Jennifer Hopkins of the United States.

Ranked only 359th in the world, Baltacha had already beaten two players ranked almost 250 places above her and thoroughly deserving her win over the world No 68. She now faces an even stiffer test in the last four against the world No 41 and top seed Kristina Brandi of the United States.

The delighted Baltacha, whose father Sergei played football for Ipswich Town, said: "It feels brilliant. I came here just with the goal to give 100 per cent in every match, I was not expecting to beat three brilliant players. I played well in patches of the match, and I served really well, which got me out of jail a couple of times."

The other semi-final will be between Janet Lee of Taipei and Rika Fujiwara of Japan after they both had straight sets wins yesterday.

Hertfordshire's Arvind Parmar kept British interest alive in the men's singles, taking his place in the quarter-finals with a 6-2, 6-7, 6-3 win over Dick Norman of Belgium. The top seed Gianluca Pozzi of Italy and Sargis Sargsian of Armenia, both former winners of the event, also booked their places in the last eight along with the American Taylor Dent.

* Anna Kournikova has pulled out of a planned exhibition match against Elena Baltacha at Surbiton tomorrow as well as next week's DFS Classic in Birmingham. The Russian has not played since sustaining a stress fracture in her left foot in March but is still scheduled to play in Eastbourne the week before Wimbledon, which begins on 25 June.

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