AUCKLAND, New Zealand - American qualifier Sachia Vickery played 68 minutes of inspired tennis to see off No.4 seed Agnieszka Radwanska - a player ranked nearly 100 spots higher - 6-2, 6-2 and take her place in the semifinals of the ASB Classic in Auckland.
“I think I played really well today,” Vickery said afterwards. “It was really tough mentally with all the rain delays, and then obviously to have to play a really good opponent. But I’m just happy to get through.
“During all the rain delays I just tried to stay warm, to stay focused and go through my game plans with my coach, and just stay relaxed trying not to put too much stress on myself.”
The players took to the court at the ASB Arena after two consecutive rained out days, with the winner facing the daunting prospect of having to play their semifinal match later in the day.
Despite having to battle through qualifiers earlier in the tournament, it was Vickery who was the fresher player right out of the gates, opening with a break in the first game. The American was beating Radwanska at her own game, outlasting her in the long rallies and forcing the Pole to go for bigger shots, drawing her into uncharacteristic unforced errors.
Vickery righted a mid-set wobble that saw Radwanska break back to drag them level at 2-2, but from there it all went the way of the American. She had an answer for everything Radwanska threw her way, and kept up her high-intensity game as she reeled off the next nine games in a row to build up a daunting set and 5-0 lead on the Pole.
Though Radwanska broke back to avoid the bagel and seemed to find her best tennis with her back to the wall, it wasn’t enough to stem the tide as the American closed out the match after an hour and eight minutes.
“It was just a really bad match,” Radwanska explained in her post-match press conference. “I just couldn’t really feel anything on court. No rhythm, no nothing. Just so bad.
“We’ll never know how it could have gone two days ago [before the rain delays], but it for sure doesn’t help. It’s the same for both players, but it definitely wasn’t good for me.”
Vickery, ranked No.121 in the world, began her Auckland campaign by qualifing for the main draw and stunning her compatriot Lauren Davis - the No.5 seed and defending champion - in the opening round. Now, the 22-year-old is through to her first ever WTA-level semifinals, and she’s yet to drop a set.
Standing between Vickery and her first WTA championship match will be the winner between No.1 seed Caroline Wozniacki and American wildcard Sofia Kenin.
“This has actually never happened to me before, playing two matches in one day - let alone a quarter and a semi!” Vickery said. “I’ll just try to recover and do my best to be ready for the next one.”
Also through to the semifinals are Julia Goerges and Hsieh Su-Wei, who will face each other in the day’s first semifinal later today. No.2 seed Goerges needed just two breaks to win a stop-start match against Polona Hercog, 6-4, 6-4.
“Conditions weren’t easy because of all the stopping a lot of times for the rain, but I just tried to hang in there,” Goerges said afterwards. “I broke her once in each set, which was enough in the end, and I served pretty good. I’m just glad to get another one today.
“Playing two matches in one day is fine for me - I’m quite used to it from playing doubles last year where I had to double up a lot of times. This is what we train for. We’ll see how the body reacts, and hopefully I can play tomorrow again.”
Meanwhile, Hsieh booked her semifinal spot after mounting a mammoth comeback to stun No.3 seed Barbora Strycova 0-6, 6-2, 6-2.