By Steve Pratt, special to USTA.com
LAS VEGAS – The top four seeded players moved into the semifinals at the second annual Lexus of Las Vegas Open, being played at the Red Rock Country Club in Summerlin.
There were no upsets on Friday, with No. 1 Edina Gallovits, No. 2 Varvara Lepchenko, No. 3 Sorana Cirstea and No. 4 Mirjana Lucic all advancing to Saturday’s semifinals, with the sole American Lepchenko needing three sets to beat Anna Tatishvili, the No. 6 seed from Georgia.
Saturday’s Lucic-Lepchenko semi will be a rematch of last weekend’s semifinals in Albuquerque, which Lucic won on her way to the $50,000 title. The Croatian is now riding an eight-match winning streak.
"I’m feeling really great right now and healthy," said Lucic, 28, the 1999 Wimbledon semifinalist. "I’ve been slowly playing these events and gaining my confidence."
Lucic qualified for the US Open and lost in the second round last month. She stands at No. 104 in the world currently, very close to a goal she would like to reach by the end of the year. "The goal is still top 100 by the end of the year," she said. "I’m very close. I just want to reach that one and then move on to the next."
Cirstea had the easiest time Friday, beating American Lauren Albanese on her 21st birthday, 6-2, 6-3. Albanese knew she’d have her hands full against the 2009 French Open quarterfinalist and a player who already has career wins over four players currently in the world's top 10: Caroline Wozniacki, Jelena Jankovic, Francesca Schiavone and Agnieszka Radwanska.
"I was a little erratic at the start and thought I could have played better," Albanese said. "I’m playing so much better than I was at this time last year and to start the year. I think I lost the first 10 matches I played. When I go big, I go big."
In the doubles final on Sunday, wild cards Irina Falconi and Maria Sanchez will face No. 4 seeds Lindsay Lee-Waters and Megan Moulton-Levy in the first match on beginning at 11 a.m.
Quarterfinals - Singles
q: qualifier; wc: wild card
Mirjana Lucic, Croatia (4), def. Abigail Spears, U.S., 7-6 (3), 7-5
Sorana Cirstea, Romania (3), def. Lauren Albanese, U.S., 6-2, 6-3
Edina Gallovits, Romania (1), def. Valerie Tetreault (Canada) (8),
Varvara Lepchenko, U.S. (2), def. Anna Tatishvili, Georgia (6), 7-6 (5), 6-7 (5), 6-3
Semifinals - Doubles
Irina Falconi, U.S. / Maria Sanchez, U.S. (wc), def. Alexandra Mueller, U.S. / Ahsha Rolle, U.S., 6-2, 6-2
Lindsay Lee-Waters, U.S. / Megan Moulton-Levy, U.S. (4), def. Abigail Spears, U.S. (2) / Mashona Washington, U.S., 3-6, 6-2, 11-9
Saturday’s Order of Play:
Stadium Court Starting at noon
Mirjana Lucic, Croatia (4), vs. Varvara Lepchenko, U.S. (2)
Followed by Sorana Cirstea, Romania (3), vs. Edina Gallovits, Romania (1)
The doubles final will begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday, followed by the singles final.
The following is a tentative schedule of events supplementing the tournament:
Saturday, Oct. 2
– Super Semifinal Saturday; USTA Ladies League Luncheon.
For additional event and ticket information, please visit www.lexuslvopen.com
Las Vegas Past Champions::
2009: Regina Kulikova (RUS)
2008: Camille Pin (FRA)
2007: Caroline Wozniacki (DEN)
1999: Erika de Lone (U.S.)
2009: Aniko Kapros (HUN) – Agustina Lepore (ARG)
2008: Melinda Czink (HUN) – Renata Voracova (CZE)
2007: Victoria Azarenka (BLR) – Tatiana Poutchek (BLR)
1999: Erika de Lone (U.S.) – Annabel Ellwood (AUS)
SINGLES Prize Money Points
Winner $7,315 70
Runner-up $3,990 50
Semifinalist $2,185 32
Quarterfinalist $1,235 18
Round of 16 $760 10
Round of 32 $475 1
DOUBLES Prize Money (per team)
Round of 16 $285
USTA Pro Circuit
With 94 tournaments throughout the country and prize money ranging from $10,000 to $100,000, the USTA Pro Circuit is the pathway to the US Open and tour-level competition for aspiring tennis players and a frequent battleground for established professionals. Last year, more than 1,000 men and women from more than 70 countries competed on the USTA Pro Circuit for approximately $3.2 million in prize money and valuable ATP and WTA Tour ranking points. Maria Sharapova, Andy Roddick, James Blake, Lindsay Davenport, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Jelena Jankovic are among the top stars who began their careers on the USTA Pro Circuit. The USTA Pro Circuit is world-class tennis administered on the local level and played on local tennis courts as part of the fabric of communities nationwide — an opportunity for current and new fans to experience the excitement and intensity of the professional game in their neighborhood.