SYDNEY: 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,” said Bouchard. “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,” said Bouchard 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,” recalled Konta. “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,” said Wozniacki. “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.”