Lajovic ends Sela’s St. Petersburg run in second round

Dudi Sela squandered a golden opportunity to reach his first ATP Tour quarterfinal in over a year.

Dudi Sela 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Dudi Sela 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Dudi Sela squandered a golden opportunity to reach his first ATP Tour quarterfinal in over a year on Thursday, losing to world number 228 Dusan Lajovic 2-6, 6-2, 6-1 in the second round of the St. Petersburg Open.
The 26-year-old Israeli, ranked No. 97 in the world, finally recorded his first win of the year over a top-20 player when he got the better of Alexandr Dolgopolov (16) to reach the second round in Russia.
However, Sela struggled desperately on his serve after taking the first set against Lajovic, with the young Serb converting seven of eight break points in the second and third sets to clinch the win after one hour and 37 minutes.
With the 2011 season drawing to a close, Sela has yet to win consecutive matches in a main Tour event, failing to reach a quarterfinal since losing in the last eight in Queens, London last June.
In other tennis news, Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and Victoria Azarenka roared into the semifinals of the WTA Championships with impressive victories as world number one Caroline Wozniacki’s tournament looked in danger of a premature end on Thursday.
Czech Kvitova cruised past a weary Wozniacki 6-4, 6-2 to qualify from the Red Group with a match to spare after Azarenka trounced China’s Li Na 6-2, 6-2 to guarantee a top-two place in the White Group.
Wozniacki, who will end the year on top of the rankings for a second consecutive season, needed to have her blood pressure checked at the end of the first set as the effects of two long three-setters in two days seemed to catch up with her.
The Dane, who posted just one win in her round-robin matches, looked ready for a holiday by the end although should Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska beat Vera Zvonareva later, but drop a set in the process, Wozniacki would have to delay her flight home until at least after the final round-robin matches on Friday.
World number four Azarenka, who arrived in the Turkish city on the back of winning the title in Luxembourg last week, has been the most impressive of the eight players on display so far, although Kvitova is not far behind.
The 22-year-old has dropped just eight games in beating U.S Open champion Samantha Stosur and French Open champion Li and looks in the mood to finish the year on a high and collect a possible $1.75 million jackpot.
For Li, who beat Maria Sharapova in her opening match, the equation is now quite straightforward.
The winner of her match against Stosur on Friday will join Azarenka in the semifinals from the White Group.
“It’s just like a normal tournament now,” the 29-year-old said. “The winner can go in the draw, and the loser have to go back. Yeah, it’s tough.
“So I think both of us will be fighting a lot.”

Reuters contributed to this report.