Dubai: Top seed Kristina Mladenovic faces Ukrainian teenager Daria Snigur, while Belgium’s Greet Minnen will take on Ana Bogdan in the semi-finals of the 22nd Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge on Friday.
Mladenovic took two hours and 50 minutes for an engrossing 6-7, 6-3, 6-2 win over fifth-seeded Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo after Snigur had sent Poland’s Magdalena Frech packing in straight sets 6-4, 6-4 in just 75 minutes.
The 26-year-old French top-seed, a multiple Grand Slam champion in doubles, was relieved to get past a strong opponent. “I was expecting this to be tough, after-all she is in the top 100. But it surely feels nice to get past such a marathon because this is what I’ve come here for,” Mladenovic told Gulf News. “Now I need time to recover and get ready for the next one against the teenager [Snigur]. She’s having a good run here after coming through the qualifying rounds. I will have to be at my very best tomorrow.”
Snigur, on the other hand, is enjoying a fantastic run in perhaps the biggest tournament of her career so far. The 17-year-old, who lives with her parents in Kiev, was pleased with her form against an older opponent from Poland on Court No. 2. After a couple of exchange of breaks, Snigur managed to hold on to the 10th to take the first set 6-4. The second set too went on similar lines until the 2019 Wimbledon Junior Girls’ champion held in the ninth and then broke a third time with a down-the-line forehand to take her place against the top seed in Friday’s semi-final.
“I feel good. It’s my first big semi-final, and yet I don’t want to put myself under any pressure but just stick to my game and see where I reach,” Snigur said. “Wimbledon is big no doubt, but it’s for girls. This tournament is the real deal as there are some of the top women here, and for me to match them and beat them gives me a lot of confidence. I am young, but I think I can keep my emotions in check and just hang in there till the last.”
The Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge is only her second $100,000 tournament for Snigur after her first-round loss at last month’s Shenzhen Open. “I don’t have the experience of playing against the real big stars,” Snigur said. “But here I am getting a chance not just to play some of them, but also get to learn so much that I can use in the future.”
In the lower end of the draw, Bogdan and Poland’s Katarzyna Kawa battled it out until the Romanian won in straight sets to set up a semi-final against lanky Belgian Minnen — a 6-1, 6-3 winner over Barbara Haas of Austria earlier in the afternoon. The two semi-finals will be played at 10am and 1.30pm on Friday.
Kristina Mladenovic bt Sara Sorribes Tormo 7-6, 6-3, 6-2; Daria Snigur bt Magdalena Frech 6-4, 6-4; Ana Bogdan bt Katarzyna Kawa 6-2, 6-2; Greet Minnen bt Barbara Haas 6-1, 6-3.