SEOUL, South Korea - At the Kia Korea Open on Friday, Varvara Lepchenko proved that lightning can indeed strike twice as she upset World No.5 Agnieszka Radwanska for the second time in as many months.
Top seed Radwanska had cruised through the opening two rounds and when she built a set and a break lead against Lepchenko, a place in the semifinals appeared to beckon. Lepchenko, though, had other ideas, turning the match on its head with a brilliant spell of all-court tennis to run out a 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-2 winner.
"It was pretty difficult match. I knew that it was not going to be easy today and I'd have to really fight a lot to be able to get through it," Lepchenko said. "She is in the Top 10 for a reason, so I knew that nothing was going to come easy. I'm pretty satisfied that I was able to stay focused right until the end."
Lepchenko had already beaten Radwanska once this year, in Stanford, and her baseline aggression and never-say-die attitude drew a favorable comparison from one journalist after the match.
"You think I play like Nadal? I'm very honored to get that kind of a comparison," Lepchenko said. "He is definitely one of the people who I have been looking up to as he's been one of the best players for a long time.
"I've been trying to learn from him a lot; he is great as a person and obviously as a fighter, too."
Despite being dissatisfied at the nature of the match's conclusion, McHale, who was leading 6-2, 2-0 at the time of the retirement, was happy with the state of her game going into the weekend. "I think it was a shame that she had to retire. I knew it wasn't her best at the end. But I think I hit my forehand well, and played pretty well and am happy with the way I played. Still, it is a shame that we had to end like that."
In the bottom half, Maria Kirilenko continued her return to form, battling back to defeat Kaia Kanepi, 6-7(3), 6-2, 6-3. Meeting her for a place in the final will be WTA Rising Star Karolina Pliskova, who continued her fine recent run of form with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Nicole Gibbs.