Third seed Sania Mirza was defeated by lower ranked Russian opponent in the quarterfinals of the US$ 145,000 Tier IV Tashkent Open Tennis tournament on Friday.
The Indian, playing her third successive WTA quarterfinal, was defeated by sixth seed and world number 58 Olga Poutchkova 4-6, 6-4, 0-6.
Top seed Maria Elena Camerin of Italy was blown off the court by 17-year-old Victoria Azarenka in just 55 minutes while No 8 Anastassia Rodionova was beaten 6-1, 6-3 by China Sun Tiantian, who entered her first career WTA semi-final.
The last quarterfinal was won by the hometown favourite Iroda Tulyaganova. She brushed aside the challenge from Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine 6-1, 6-2.
In the semi-finals on Saturday, Azarenka plays Sun and Poutchkova takes on Tulyaganova.
Poutchkova displayed greater commitment than Sania. The Indian's discomfort was visibly apparent during the 1-hour, 42-minute match, in which there were 14 breaks of serve.
It was another inconsistent performance by the 55th-ranked Indian player, who later said that she never really adjusted to the conditions here at the Tashkent Tennis Centre.
She won six games in a row after being 4-0 down in the second set and then lost six straight in the third.
"Sometimes you don't get used to the conditions and then you don't win" said a disappointed Mirza. "The balls were flying, I just didn't get to feel the ball on my racket I haven't been feeling the ball in the last three matches."
Azarenka didn't put a foot wrong in her match against Camerin. She won the first set in 21 minutes and continued in the same vein in the second, going up 4-0 in no time.
"I had a perfect game," she said later. "She played unbelievable," was Camerin's verdict.
Camerin finally stopped the runaway express, holding serve in the fifth game, and showed her relief by holding aloft her shoulders in mock triumph, much to the delight of the crowd.
Azarenka's temperament was tested in the next game, as Camerin forced three breakpoints. But she held and then broke Camerin again, to win the match, the Italian double-faulting at matchpoint.
"After she held serve (at 4-0 in the second set), she got confident, so I had to be ready to stay there," said Azarenka. Camerin , too, felt that had she made it 4-2 she could have come back into the match but it was not to be.
Sun also had a fairly easy time against Rodionova in their 85-minute match. She played more aggressively than she did against Tatiana Poutchek in the earlier round and it paid dividends.
There were a lot of disputed calls, especially by the Russian, who received a code violation warning for ball abuse. None of this bothered Sun though. "I kept my concentration," she said.
Meanwhile, Tatiana Poutchek and Azarenka, the No 4 seeds, emerged as doubles champions.
They received a walk-over from their opponents-- No 2 seeds Camerin and Emmanuelle Gagliardi (Switzerland). Camerin had sprained her ankle while warming up for Friday's singles quarter-final. Sportingly, she did not mention that as a cause for her defeat when she spoke to the media.
Victoria Azarenka (Blr) bt 1-Maria Elena Camerin (Ita) 6-1, 6-0
6-Olga Poutchkova (Rus) bt 3-Sania Mira (Ind) 6-4, 4-6, 6-0
Sun Tiantian (Chn) bt 8Anastassia Rodionova (Rus) 6-1, 6-3
WC Iroda Tulyaganova (Uzb) bt Kateryna Bondarenko (Ukr) 6-1, 6-2