Yanina Wickmayer found out for herself why top-ranked Caroline Wozniacki keeps advancing at the Family Circle Cup.
"In every match, she finds a way to get out of it and beat her opponent," Wickmayer said. "That's most important."
Wozniacki rallied from a first-set loss and 4-2 down in the final set to defeat Wickmayer 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 on Friday to move into the semifinals.
It was another tight match for Wozniacki, who needed to two tiebreakers a day earlier to beat Barbora Zahlavova Strycova. In this one, Wickmayer looked like the steadier player, winning points with deep forehands and pushing Wozniacki all over the court. Wickmayer kept the pressure on in the second set as she took a 3-1 lead against the Dane.
But as Wozniacki did against Zahlavova Strycova, she pulled herself up with a string of laser forehands and well-placed shots. Wozniacki won five of final six games to even the match.
Again, Wickmayer grabbed control in the decisive set, breaking Wozniacki on the way to her 4-2 lead.
"I knew that I was going to get one chance, and I had to take that," Wozniacki said.
Did she ever.
Wozniacki won the next game at love, then broke Wickmayer's serve. When Wickmayer threatened to break a game later, Wozniacki pounded a 110 mph serve that her opponent couldn't handle.
Wickmayer sailed a forehand wide and Wozniacki was in front for good. Wickmayer had little left in her final service game, which Wozniacki took at love to win the match.
Wozniacki pumped her fist and smiled widely when Wickmayer's shot went out, then waved and blew kisses to the crowd at stadium court.
"I mean, it's unbelievable. Everyone is cheering for me and it's such a great feeling," she said. "I feel like a local, really."
And why not? Wozniacki has stuck around deep into the tournament the three times she's played. In 2009, she reached the final before losing to Sabine Lisicki. A year ago, she was in the semifinals when she had to retire with an ankle injury.
Wozniacki figures to face another difficult match on Saturday in Jelena Jankovic, who ended the run of 18-year-old American Christina McHale 6-2, 6-0.
Jankovic, 26, reached No. 1 in the world in 2008 and understands better than anyone the pressure that comes with that position. And Jankovic, who has not dropped a set in her first three matches, is playing as well as anyone left, including Wozniacki.
"I'm feeling good," Jankovic said. "My game is getting better and better."
Jankovic, the 2007 champion here, has won four of five career meetings with Wozniacki. None of those, however, took place on the slower, green clay at Family Circle Tennis Center.
"She's a great athlete," Jankovic said of Wozniacki. "She really runs a lot of balls down and doesn't give you anything."
The other semifinal will feature 11th-seeded Peng Shuai against Elena Vesnina, the only unseeded player among the final four. Peng defeated Sania Mirza 2-6, 6-2, 6-2 while Vesnina beat No. 12 seed Julia Goerges, also by 2-6, 6-2, 6-2.