Eugenie Bouchard reached her first semi-final for 10 months as she battled intense heat to down higher-ranked Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova at the Sydney International on Wednesday.
The former Wimbledon finalist wore down the 27th-ranked Pavlyuchenkova 6-2, 6-3 in 76 minutes to set up a semi-final with Britain’s world number 10 Johanna Konta.
It will be the 49th-ranked Canadian’s first WTA Tour semi-final since the Malaysian Open in March last year.
“It’s a good step in the right direction. I know there is a long way to go to achieve what I want,” Bouchard said.
“But to match up against solid players like I have this week, it’s a very tough tournament here. So I’m proud of that, for sure.”
Bouchard beat Konta in three sets in the second round at last year’s Wimbledon, but it was a battle.
“I barely got through the last one. She’s a top-10 player. She’s playing her best tennis right now,” Bouchard said of Konta.
“I know she will be pretty aggressive. She hits a big ball. I will be ready for that and try and play some good tennis. Yeah, just be grateful for another day in Sydney.”
Konta continued her impressive progress through the Sydney International draw with a 6-3, 7-5 win over rising young Russian Daria Kasatkina, who had eliminated German world number one Angelique Kerber in Tuesday’s second round.
“I played Eugenie last year in Wimbledon, a really, really tough battle,” Konta said.
“I know going into it that it’s going to be a tough match. She still is one of the best players, and, yeah, it’s a given that it’s going to be a tough one.”
Elsewhere on a stifling day where temperatures topped 42 degrees Celsius (108 Fahrenheit), former world number one Caroline Wozniacki went down in a punishing three hour, 20 minute battle with Barbora Strycova 7-5, 6-7 (6/8), 6-4.
Both players needed treatment for foot blisters on the broiling Ken Rosewall Arena hardcourt.
Strycova in the semis will face the 2013 winner Agnieszka Radwanska, who eliminated Chinese qualifier Duan Yingying 6-3, 6-2 in the evening match.
Duan was the first Chinese woman through to the quarter-finals in Sydney since Li Na in 2013.
Wozniacki was attempting to end a run of seven Sydney International visits without getting past the quarter-finals.
She battled back from 5-2 down in the second set and 5-0 in the tiebreaker but fell in the third set.
“It was brutal out there, and it was really hot. But you just try and think like you’re on a beach drinking pina coladas,” Wozniacki said.
“That’s basically your train of thought. You know that it’s the same for both players, so I was just trying to mentally just try and keep cool. But it was really, really hot out there.”
Meanwhile, Gilles Muller beat the heat to be one match away from a third straight semi-final appearance at the Sydney International following a big-serving victory over Australian Matt Barton on Wednesday.
The sixth seed from Luxembourg prevailed over Barton 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 as temperatures nudged 42 Celsius (108 Fahrenheit) to reach the quarter-finals.
Muller, who lost to Grigor Dimitrov in last year’s semi-final, will next face Uruguayan second seed Pablo Cuevas, who overcame Frenchman Nicolas Mahut 6-4, 2-6, 6-2.
“It was tough today. I think it was good that we both have big serves, there were not many rallies so that helped to get through it. I was happy when it was over,” Muller said.
The 33-year-old added that he was still struggling with the lingering effects of illness from last week’s Brisbane International, where he lost in the first round to American Jared Donaldson.
“The result is actually not so bad, the quarter-finals so I should be happy,” he said.
“I like it here. The courts are quite fast, I enjoy the city. I feel good here. I don’t know what it is, but it’s true my results have been great here over the last three years.”
German fifth seed Philipp Kohlschreiber knocked out Australian Jordan Thompson 7-5, 6-4 and will face the winner of the match between two-time defending champion Viktor Troicki and Paolo Lorenzi. Kohlschreiber needed just 84 minutes to cruise past Thompson, who failed to save a single break point.
Spanish fourth seed Pablo Carreno-Busta dropped the first set before overcoming German Mischa Zverev 3-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-3
Tournament top seed Dominic Thiem plays his first match of the Australian Open warm-up event in an evening clash against Portuguese qualifier Gastao Elias.—AFP