Daniilidou holds firm to reach final four

While all eyes and camera lenses were focussed on the latest starlet to emerge from Russia's tennis production line, it was another teenager, the 19-year-old Greek No 1, Eleni Daniilidou, who was staking her claim for broader recognition as the DFS Classic sorted out its semi-finalists yesterday.

The tall right-hander, who has climbed to 14 in the world rankings with some fine performances this year, confirmed her status as No 2 seed with a hard-fought 3-6, 7-6, 7-6 victory over the gutsy Thai, Tamarine Tanasugarn.

It took almost three hours for Daniilidou to book her place in the last four after Tanasugarn, despite struggling with a foot injury, took the first set and forced the next two to tie-breaks, from which the Greek girl eventually prevailed.

Daniilidou, whose languid manner proves deceptive when she is required to move quickly around the court, found the 10th seed a stubborn adversary who could trade baseline strokes, but also had a deft touch at the net.

Indeed, she caught Daniilidou somewhat by surprise by winning the first set, although the Greek player seemed to have some cause for complaint over the circumstances in which she won the set on her own serve. Daniilidou was left staring in disbelief at the umpire's chair as a Tanasugarn passing shot on set point was deemed to have caught the line when it appeared clearly out.

However, she turned her displeasure to good use, streaking to a 5-2 lead in the second set. It was at this point that Tanasugarn required the trainer to tend to an injured toe on her right foot and a six-minute stoppage broke Daniilidou's concentration. She blew three set points in the game after the restart and was broken again as the set went into a tie-break, but held her nerve to level the match.

Tanasugarn continued despite regular need of a pain-killing spray, recovering a 4-2 deficit to force another tie-break before Daniilidou clinched victory after two hours and 53 minutes on court.

Having reached the last 16 at Wimbledon last year, Daniilidou captured her second singles title in Auckland in January and went on to equal her best grand slam finish when she progressed to the fourth round of the Australian Open, in which she lost to the eventual champion, Serena Williams.

The French Open was a disappointment, however, her tendency to slip up against lower-ranked opponents returning to haunt her in the third round when she was beaten by 19th seed Patty Schnyder.

Daniilidou will meet the third seed, Bulgaria's Magdalena Maleeva, in today's semi-finals, following Maleeva's victory over Stephanie Foretz of France, a 6-7, 6-2, 6-2 triumph gaining her a first appearance in the last four here following two previous unsuccessful visits to the quarter-final stage.

Japan's Shinobu Asagoe was awaiting the winner of the Elena Dementieva-Maria Sharapova match after a three-set victory over Marai Vento-Kabchi, of Venezuela, in the other quarter-final.

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