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Tennis | WTA

Barthel into Hobart semifinals



Mona Barthel of Germany extended her defense of the Hobart International title to the semifinals after beating Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria 6-3, 6-3 on Thursday.

Barthel will play Kirsten Flipkens next after the Belgian beat Monica Niculescu of Romania 2-6, 6-4, 6-0.

Eighth-seeded Sloane Stephens advanced by downing fellow American and qualifier Lauren Davis 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 in the quarterfinals.

Stephens will play Elena Vesnina of Russia in Friday's other semifinal. Vesnina played better in windy conditions to top wild card Jarmila Gajdosova of Australia 6-3, 6-2.

"I had to be smart and in the wind you have to use it like a weapon," Vesnina said.

Barthel said she's "improved a lot" since she won her first only WTA title as a qualifier in Hobart a year ago.

"I feel like I learned so much last year, playing all these tournaments and against the top players," Barthel said. "My serve has got better and I feel like my groundstrokes are better ... but maybe a little more confidence this year."

The final is scheduled for Saturday at the Domain Tennis Centre.

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