MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Former world number one Amelie Mauresmo upset top seed Ana Ivanovic 6-3 6-2 to advance to the semi-finals of the Brisbane International on Thursday.
Mauresmo, who has slipped down the rankings since she won the Australian Open and Wimbledon titles in 2006, dominated the world number five and sealed victory after 67 minutes when the Serbian hit a backhand into the net with the court open.
Ivanovic, who was briefly the world’s top ranked player last year, has struggled at the Brisbane tournament and her performances have placed question marks over her Australian Open credentials.
The 21-year-old, who lost last year’s final at Melbourne Park to Maria Sharapova, saved two match points in her match against Italian qualifier Roberta Vinci on Wednesday and also struggled in her first match against Petra Kvitova.
“I was pretty happy with my first two matches,” she told reporters. “I played really well the first one and (against Vinci) I dug really deep and it gave me a lot of confidence.
“I didn’t have much time to recover ... and I didn’t have the energy to dig deep again.
“In Melbourne I’m going to be practicing and playing lots of sparring. I just have to get more consistent and work more on my serve.”
The 23rd-ranked Mauresmo said she felt she was finally starting to show glimpses of the form that propelled her to the top of the rankings and was aiming to re-enter the top-10.
“It feels great,” Mauresmo said.
“I’m very proud of the way I played today from the first one to the last.”
She will now meet third-seeded compatriot Marion Bartoli who outclassed Italy’s Tathiana Garbin 6-3 6-3.
Second seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus initially struggled against Czech Lucie Safarova, who broke the world number 16 three times to hold a 5-1 lead in the first set.
Azarenka, who received a tongue lashing from coach Antonio Van Grichen at the change of ends, then won the next five games before claiming a tough 7-6 6-4 victory on her sixth match point.
Azarenka will next play Sara Errani of Italy, who beat Belarus’s Olga Govortsova 6-3 6-3.
In the men’s draw, third seed Fernando Verdasco of Spain came from a set down and needed almost two hours to beat France’s Florent Serra 4-6 6-0 6-3.
The world number 15 will next meet France’s Paul-Henri Mathieu, a 6-3 6-4 winner over Japanese teenager Kei Nishikori.
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Nick Mulvenney and Pritha Sarkar