Moscow River Cup: Youngsters dominate as two 17-year-olds make the semifinals

Moscow River Cup: Youngsters dominate as two 17-year-olds make the semifinals

Olga Danilovic and Anastasia Potapova were the biggest stories at the Moscow River Cup as the pair of 17-year-olds made their maiden WTA semifinals.

don-han
Don Han

Quarterfinals day at the 2018 Moscow River Cup saw a slew of huge upsets coming our way as two 2001-born players made it into the semifinals of a WTA event for the first time in their careers and in history, while the oldest player left in the draw is the 24-year-old Aliaksandra Sasnovich. This means that the inaugural edition of this tournament will witness a first-time WTA title winner with the seventh seed Sasnovich leading the pack currently.

Sasnovich receives walkover from Sevastova

Friday’s results saw just one seed surviving the incoming slaughter from the underdogs — though the only seed who progressed technically did not win a match. Third seed and the in-form Anastasija Sevastova was originally a contender to claim the title in the wide-open field but faced an injury issue with her left thigh after it seemed to have bothered her in the second-round, having came straight from Bucharest.

Aliaksandra Sasnovich is in good form here in Moscow | Photo: Moscow River Cup
Aliaksandra Sasnovich is in good form here in Moscow | Photo: Moscow River Cup

The Latvian gave a walkover to fifth seed Aliaksandra Sasnovich, who is in some scaringly good form throughout the week. The Belarusian now enters the semifinals without losing a set, having beaten Johanna Larsson and Evgeniya Rodina earlier in the week. She will now face 17-year-old Olga Danilovic, who made her maiden WTA semifinal after a series of good wins.

Goerges stunned by youngster

Lucky-loser Olga Danilovic continued her dream run here in Moscow after ousting top seed and world number 10 Julia Goerges in their quarterfinal affair. The Serbian world number 187 improved her record against top-100 players to an impressive 80 percent winning percentage (4-1) and claimed the biggest win of her career in her first-ever main draw appearance at a WTA event.

Olga Danilovic in action at the Moscow River Cup | Photo: Moscow River Cup
Olga Danilovic in action at the Moscow River Cup | Photo: Moscow River Cup

Danilovic put in a solid performance and defeated Goerges in straight sets with a stunning 6-3, 6-3 scoreline, breaking serve on four different occasions. Danilovic will face Sasnovich in the semifinals and is projected to rise into the top-150 of the new rankings on Monday.

Potapova creates history as well

The home fans had something to cheer for after 17-year-old Anastasia Potapova became the second player, after Danilovic, to create history having just been the second 17-year-old to reach the semifinals of a WTA event within the space of hours. Potapova managed to claim a huge win over fellow Russian and qualifier Valentyna Ivakhnenko, reflecting her tough mentality after recovering from a huge deficit to triumph.

Anastasia Potapova retrieved from a 1-6, 2-3* deficit to triumph | Photo: Photo: Moscow River Cup
Anastasia Potapova retrieved from a 1-6, 2-3* deficit to triumph | Photo: Photo: Moscow River Cup

Potapova’s nerves were evident in the early stages of the match as Ivakhnenko stomped her authority across the court, blasting towards a commanding 6-1, 3-2 lead and leading by a set and a break. From there on, it was a one-sided encounter as the wildcard rattled off eight consecutive games en route to claiming the win within just an hour and 38 minutes of play.

She will face the dangerous Tamara Zidansek in the semifinals. Being the only home player remaining in the draw, the Russian will be looking to impress the home crowd on Saturday.

Zidansek stuns Siegemund

Silently rising in the rankings throughout the year, Tamara Zidansek made her top-100 debut in 2018 and is now projected to reach another new career-high ranking yet again after her amazing run. The Slovenian won the WTA 125k event in Bol, and will now own another decent chance to finish on the podium and break into the world’s top-60 for the first time in her career.

Tamara Zidansek had previously upset home favourite and second seed Daria Kasatkina in the second round yesterday | Photo: Photo: Moscow River Cup
Tamara Zidansek had previously upset home favourite and second seed Daria Kasatkina in the second round yesterday | Photo: Photo: Moscow River Cup

Zidansek managed to beat clay-court specialist and the resurgent Laura Siegemund, who is still in the midst of her comeback from a career-threatening knee injury sustained last year. The German was making a slew of unforced errors and Zidansek was extremely solid in her game, overcoming a late wobble as she held her nerves to close out one of the best wins of her career.

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