TOKYO, Oct 7 (Reuters): India's Sania Mirza upset top seed Vera Zvonareva 5-7 6-2 6-4 Friday to reach the semi-finals of the Japan Open.
The 18-year-old recovered from a sloppy start to storm through the second set and kept up the pressure in the third to beat the Russian in just under two and a half hours.
"I think I played one of my best matches," said the eighth-seeded Mirza, who has achieved cult status in India with her vibrant antics and colourful earrings and T-shirts.
"She's the number one seed and I'm happy that I was able to play my game."
Mirza, who won her first WTA Tour title in her home city of Hyderabad in February, takes on third seed Tatiana Golovin in the semi-finals.
The Frenchwoman beat Japan's Ai Sugiyama 3-6 6-2 6-2.
Fourth seed Maria Kirilenko of Russia beat American Jill Craybas 6-2 4-6 6-2. She will meet number two Nicole Vaidisova of the Czech Republic, who overcame Sweden's Sofia Arvidsson 2-6 6-3 6-2.
In the men's draw, seventh-seeded Finn Jarkko Nieminen knocked out Asia's number one Paradorn Srichaphan of Thailand 2-6 7-6 7-5 in a rain-delayed third round match.
U.S. Open semi-finalist Robby Ginepri suffered an upset on his 23rd birthday when the third seed was beaten 6-4 6-3 by German Bjorn Phau in a quarter-final match.