The quarterfinals of the Volvo Car Open were all played and there were several upsets throughout the day, with fifth seed Caroline Wozniacki and eighth seed Anastasija Sevastova all crashing out, leaving only one seed left in the draw vying for the title.
Kasatkina strolls to victory
Having a lackluster 2017 season despite beating world number one Angelique Kerber twice, Daria Kasatkina finally got her season off-going on her favourite surface as she managed to reach her first semifinal of this year, making a push up in the rankings once again. This came after she was able to beat a dangerous clay-court player in Irina-Camelia Begu, triumphing in straight sets in their quarterfinal affair. Kasatkina was able to overcome a slow start which almost proved to be costly as she managed to rattle off four consecutive games to take a 4-2 lead before being pegged back by Begu. Nevertheless, the Russian bounced back to claim the opening set and looked on course for her fourth victory over the Romanian.
An exchange of service breaks at the start of the second set caused both players to look inseparable on the scoreboard, but Kasatkina unexpectedly cruised to the victory from then onwards, with an excellent run of winning eight straight points proving to be destructive for the Russian. She sealed the win in just 74 minutes, setting up a meeting against Laura Siegemund in the semifinals. Poor performances originally caused Kasatkina to drop to as low as number 42 from the 25th spot, but she is now provisionally back in the top 40 of the rankings with this run.
Siegemund continues dream run
Laura Siegemund proved that her huge upset over Venus Williams in the second round was no fluke after she affirmed her ranking of number 37 with another upset victory, this time over Anastasija Sevastova, besting her result here in Charleston. Despite suffering a slight hiccup in the early stages, Siegemund eventually managed to stroll to the first set victory within just 31 minutes of play. Sevastova looked to have a deciding set within her sights as she jumped out to a formidable 3-0 lead in the second set, breaking serve twice as she seemed to have stopped the momentum of Siegemund from continuing having its way.
The German then maintained her composure despite the huge deficit, coming back to eventually triumph in straight sets, continuing her dream run after saving match points against Williams in the second round. Coming into Charleston with a 1-7 win-loss record this year in WTA main draw matches, Siegemund was definitely not favoured for a deep run here despite defending quarterfinal points from last year. Siegemund fell outside of the top 40 in the rankings with her disappointing record this year, but she is projected to affirm her place there with this run.
Lucic-Baroni fends off tough challenge
Mirjana Lucic-Baroni’s excellent 2017 continued in Charleston as she progressed to the semi-finals with a clinical display against Shelby Rogers in the quarterfinals, with this being her third semifinal of the year. The first set was very tight in terms of the scoreboard, with both players playing their best tennis and displaying some high-quality offensive tennis in front of a supportive American crowd for Rogers. The American saved a set point before extending the set into a tiebreak, which was equally tight as compared to the set itself. Lucic-Baroni earned her second set point there but failed to convert as Rogers eventually held her nerves to steal the first set with a 9-7 score in the tiebreak, being just one set away from her first ever semifinal in her hometown.
Surprisingly, Rogers lost her way from then on as the Croatian rattled off 11 consecutive games from 0-1 down to be just a game away from winning the match, being at her absolute best and looked to seal a spot in the semifinals. Despite Rogers earning a consolation game to prevent a virtual double bagel, Lucic-Baroni strolled to the victory in just 2 hours and 13 minutes to set up a meeting with Jelena Ostapenko in the semifinals. This win edged Lucic-Baroni closer to a top 20 debut as her stellar 2017 season continues, with the title being within her reach now. It was also found out that Rogers was struggling with an ab injury since the start of the second set, thus explaining her difficulties with her movements around the court in the latter stages of the match.
Ostapenko produces huge shock
The late night semifinal between Jelena Ostapenko and Caroline Wozniacki saw a huge upset produced as the Latvian prevented the Dane from taking the top spot in the Road to Singapore leaderboard and return to the world’s top 10 by strolling to a shock straight sets victory, outclassing Wozniacki in the 89 minutes affair. After an even start to the first set which saw the scoreline locked at 2-2, Ostapenko went on a run from then onwards as she rattled off four consecutive games to clinch the first set, a set away from her first semifinal in her first ever appearance here. Wozniacki was unable to go against the formidable offense of Ostapenko, who fired winners after winners as if Wozniacki was not on the court.
The second set was much of a similar story as compared to the first set, with Ostapenko overcoming the loss of an early lead to break serve in a pivotal fifth game of the set, taking a lead of a set and a break. It proved to be very crucial as the youngster eventually used the advantage to triumph in straight sets on her fourth match point, fending off two break points in the final game. This was Ostapenko’s first ever top 20 win on any clay surfaces, and her fourth overall. It was an absolutely excellent performance from the Latvian as she hit a total of 40 winners, a massive amount considering this match was concluded in just two sets.
The semifinals of the Volvo Car Open would be played tomorrow, with Daria Kasatkina and Laura Siegemund taking the court first before the second semifinal between Mirjana Lucic-Baroni and Jelena Ostapenko starts play. It would be interesting to see if Siegemund can continue her amazing run here or if Kasatkina would be able to fend off the challenge of the German, progressing to her first ever WTA final. The second semifinal would see a match-up between two hard hitters, with Lucic-Baroni already achieving much success this year and Ostapenko hitting a massive 40 winners in her quarterfinal match. On paper, the favourite to clinch the title would be the 11th seed Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, who is the only seed still remaining in the draw. Nevertheless, the outcome is still very unpredictable and it would be fun to see who can prevail among these four players.