Dubai: Unseeded Anastasia Gasanova will line up against former runner-up Daria Snigur, while Kristina Kucova, the lone seed remaining, will take on rank outsider Aleksandra Krunic in the singles semi-finals of the 24th Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge, today (Friday).
Gasanova disposed off Zheng 6-1, 6-3 in 74 minutes, after 2019 runner-up Snigur had battled nearly two hours for a 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-0 lop-sided win over 2019 runner-up Viktoria Kuzmova.
In the lower half of the draw, a relaxed Krunic blew off qualifier Isabella Shinikova 6-1, 6-2 in just 59 minutes, while fourth-seeded Kucova was pushed till the end on her way to a 7-6 (4), 7-6 (1) win over 2008 champion Vitalia Diatchenko.
Quick and unpredictable
Krunic, who is making a comeback of sorts after taking a four-week break, was out firing all cylinders taking the hard-hitting Shinikova by surprise. “She’s quick and unpredictable, so the idea was to keep the balls low and make her play those long rallies with the hope that she would make all the mistakes,” Krunic related.
“I was also serving well and playing with no expectations at all. Perhaps, that kept me relaxed and happy and helped me play my natural game as per the plan,” added the 28-year-old Moscow-born Serbian.
“I never thought I would go so deep in this tournament. And now that I have another two matches left here, I would love to continue on the same path,” she stated.
Her opponent in the semi-final is Kucova, the fourth seeded player from Slovakia who ground out a 7-6 (4), 7-6 (1) win against 2008 champion Diatchenko.
“This win is very special for me as this will assure me of a direct entry into the main draw for the 2022 Australian Open. Secondly, this was the third meeting between us and at least I’ve managed to win against her for the first time,” Kucova said.
“Tomorrow is a new day and a new game in the last tournament of the season for me. The idea is to take one day at a time. It’s been a fantastic week for me so far and being in the final would be a great thing,” the 31-year-old from Bratislava stated.
Kuzmova was relieved to get into her second semi-final here in the hot afternoon conditions. “I really can’t explain what happened out there, especially in the second set when I sort of switched off for some time. But then I put things back in perspective in the third,” the 19-year-old from Ukraine related.
“I think it’s a good job done so far for me. Now, I don’t want to think too much but just take things one step at a time while concentrating on improving certain elements of my game,” she added.
Gasanova was relieved to get past an opponent who had beaten her three weeks back. “She [Zheng] is a tricky player. She’s aggressive and she’s a fighter. Being young, she is someone who doesn’t have much to lose. So, the key for me was to focus on my game,” Gasanova said.
Concentrate on recovery
“The semi-final against Daria [Snigur] is going to be interesting as both of us practice at the same academy [in Kiev]. I know what I need to do against her. But right now, I’ve got to concentrate on recovery and be ready for her,” the 22-year-old Russian added.
Meanwhile, the doubles semi-finals line-up also got ready with Peangtarn Plipuech and Aldila Sutjiadi taking just taking 47 minutes to sweep off Yuliya Hatouka and Jessy Rompies 6-1, 6-1, while Angelina Gabueva and Anastasia Zakharova beat Tereza Mihalikova and Ankita Raina 6-3, 6-3.
In the other two quarter-finals, Beatrice Gumulya and Yu-Chieh Hsieh defeated Kateryna Bondarenko and Lidziya Marozava 6-3, 7-6 (5), while Anna Danilina and Viktoria Kuzmova got a walkover from Kristina Kucova and Renata Voracova.
Anastasia Gasanova bt Qinwen Zheng 6-1, 6-3; Daria Snigur bt Viktoria Kuzmova 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-0; Kristina Kucova bt Vitalia Diatchenko 7-6 (4), 7-6 (1); Aleksandra Krunic bt Isabella Shinikova 6-1, 6-2.
Peangtarn Plipuech/Aldila Sutjiadi bt Yuliya Hatouka/Jessy Rompies 6-1, 6-1; Angelina Gabueva/Anastasia Zakharova bt Tereza Mihalikova/Ankita Raina 6-3, 6-3; Beatrice Gumulya/Yu-Chieh Hsieh bt Kateryna Bondarenko/Lidziya Marozava 6-3, 7-6 (5); Anna Danilina/Viktoria Kuzmova bt Kristina Kucova/Renata Voracova (walkover).