Adelaide : Continuing her phenomenal week at the Adelaide International 1, No.102 Linda Noskova saved match point to defeat former No.1 Victoria Azarenka 6-4, 6-7(3), 7-6(6) to advance to the semifinals of the tournament, here on Friday.
The 18-year-old Czech also saved match points in her first round of qualifying in Adelaide. Noskova will face World No.2 Ons Jabeur on Saturday. Jabeur came away with a win over Ukrainian qualifier Marta Kostyuk to win 7-6(5), 7-5 in her quarterfinal.
The top-seeded Tunisian faces a tricky task against Noskova, who has enjoyed a stunning opening week in Adelaide. The teenager came through qualifying with wins over Anna Kalinskaya and Anastasia Potapova, and stunned No.9 Daria Kasatkina to earn her first Top 10 win in the first round.
Noskova followed up with a dominant straight-set win over American Claire Liu, before laying down a statement performance to defeat Azarenka. “I definitely didn’t expect to play semifinals with wins over Kasatkina or Azarenka.
I just came here for qualies. I don’t know what I’m doing here,” Noskova laughed. I’m just really enjoying the conditions. They’re on my side, I would say. The ball is really fast so that’s just another positive thing for my game and I’m just using that,” she added.
In a hard-fought match that lasted nearly three hours, Noskova and Azarenka combined for 90 winners between them. After taking the opening set by overpowering Azarenka, the two-time Australian Open champion struck back.
Azarenka began to take hold of the momentum by increasing her aggression and matching Noskova power for power. The final set saw Azarenka’s vintage competitiveness on full display.
Azarenka saved five breakpoints in her opening service game to hold serve, and fended off another two in her second service to stay with the Czech. Noskova would finally break through to earn a chance to serve out the win, but Azarenka broke back with ease to level the set at 5-5.
Serving to force a tiebreak, it was Noskova’s turn to serve under pressure. Down 30-40, Noskova reached to fire a big ace down the tee and followed it up with two clean winners to hold to 6-6.
In the deciding tiebreak, Noskova’s ground game won out and she closed out the win on her second match point after 2 hours and 58 minutes. Jabeur booked her spot in the Adelaide semifinals by ending Kostyuk’s strong week.
The Ukrainian came through qualifying and defeated Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina in three strong sets. Kostyuk jumped out to a 4-1 lead on Jabeur before the Tunisian began to weave her web.
“Today was a more difficult match for sure, but it’s the beginning of the season,” Jabeur said. “Everyone is hungry to win. I’m trying to maintain my stature as the top seed, No.2 in the world.
I had some difficulties but I’m glad I’m accepting certain points that the other player is making. They’re challenging me. I’m glad I’m accepting that they can play good as well, which is something that was hard to do before,” she added.
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