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Israeli national champion Tzipora Obziler was finally defeated by second-seeded Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia in the quarterfinals of the ASB Women's Classic.
Obziler, 32, lost 7-5, 3-6, 7-5 in a marathon match Thursday allowing Hantuchova to advance to the semifinals of the. The Slovak made 70 unforced errors in a performance that ranged from brilliant to impetuous and distracted. But she was helped by an opponent who was also unable to close out vital games.
Obziler, who beat defending champion Katarina Srebotnik on Wednesday, was playing her sixth match of the tournament. She won three qualifying matches to advance to the main draw.
The Israeli, who defeated Shahar Pe'er to win the national championships in Ra'anana last month, was poised to reach the semifinals for the first time in her eight-year pro career. But Hantuchova reeled off a series of winners to seal the match.
Hantuchova will face Russian Vera Zvonareva in the semifinals. Praising her opponent's strong play, Hantuchova said: "It was a pain. It wasn't just a case of playing my opponent today but myself as well. I was really amazed at the way she played and she never gave up fighting right to the end."
of the match."
Hantuchova and Obziler played one of the longest matches in tournament history - 3 hours, 10 minutes. By contrast, eighth-seeded Zvonareva needed just 59 minutes to sweep fourth-seeded compatriot Maria Kirilenko 6-2, 6-0.
Injuries caused Zvonareva to fall to 42nd in the year-end rankings, well off her career high of nine in 2004. She showed top-10 form on Thursday, overwhelming the 27th-ranked Kirilenko with a display of accuracy and power.
"It was my third match of the year and I was really happy with the way I looked on the court," Zvonareva said.
Sixth-seeded Marion Bartoli of France beat Julia Schruff of Germany 6-2, 6-0 to reach the semifinals for the third straight year.
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