Samantha Stosur suffered a surprise 4-6 6-4 7-6 loss to Elena Dementieva at the WTA Championships on Thursday but did enough to book her place in the semi-finals of the $4.55 million tournament.
Russian Dementieva had been blown away by world number one Caroline Wozniacki in her Maroon Group opener on Tuesday but delivered a far more assured performance against Stosur.
"It was not easy to play tonight, especially after losing to Caroline very easily," Dementieva said in a courtside interview. "Tonight I fought for every point," added the Russian, who is making her 10th appearance at the tournament.
With maroon and white Qatari flags fluttering above the Khalifa Tennis Complex, conditions were much more comfortable for players than the oppressive humidity of the first two days.
In the first match of the season-ending tournament to go to three sets, Stosur struggled to recreate the same power and depth from the baseline that thwarted world number one Wozniacki on Wednesday and a determined Dementieva took full advantage.
Stosur scored an early break in the first set but let the advantage slip when Dementieva battled back to 4-4. The Australian survived a scare on serve but held and then broke Dementieva to win the first set.
The Russian, who can still qualify for the semis depending on the remaining group results, upped her game in the second set and for the first time in the tournament Stosur looked rattled, gazing to the heavens in search of answers.
Dementieva got her second break to lead 5-4 and then put the set away by ripping a backhand up the line with Stosur well out of position.
The third set went on serve until the tiebreak where Dementieva`s consistency made the difference. Stosur was disappointed to lose her perfect record in the group but by claiming the first set against Dementieva she guaranteed herself a spot in Saturday`s semi-finals.
In Thursday`s later games, Wozniacki can seal the year-end number one spot against Francesca Schiavone while Kim Clijsters faces Victoria Azarenka.