MUMBAI, India - No.1 seed Aryna Sabalenka may be fresh off one of the biggest stages of her career, helping the Belarusian team push the USA to a deciding rubber in the Fed Cup final two weeks ago, but she isn't done for the year yet - storming into her third semifinal in her past five tournaments at the L&T Mumbai Open with a 6-4, 6-2 win over No.5 seed Naomi Broady.
The 19-year-old, who had been taken to a third-set tiebreak in yesterday's second round against Lu Jia-Jing, started slowly, falling behind an early break as Broady dominated on serve and at net. The Belarusian managed to break back immediately after a titanic fifth game, though, and from there unleashed the full force of her power to sweep 20 of the last 23 points of the first set.
By now, Sabalenka was pummeling the Briton's one-handed backhand at will, reading her serve with greater accuracy - but also landing her shots on big points. A tight start to the second set saw six deuces in the first three games - all of which went the Belarusian's way, including two breaks of serve. It was a lead she held to the end of the match, setting up a semifinal against either France's Amandine Hesse or local wildcard Ankita Raina.
Elsewhere in quarterfinal action, Sabina Sharipova claimed the day's biggest upset as she came from a set down to upend No.3 seed Yanina Wickmayer 3-6, 6-4, 6-2. The Uzbek World No.186 had seemed overpowered by the former World No.12, but as the match progressed her flat, cleanly struck strokes increasingly forced her opponent to chase the ball from side to side - often in vain.
Sharipova's reward for her efforts is a semifinal against World No.252 Dalila Jakupovic. The Slovene dispatched qualifier Alizé Lim 6-3, 6-1 in the first quarterfinal of the day. It is the first time either player has progressed to the last four at this level: Sharipova had lost her only previous WTA 125K quarterfinal in Dalian in September to Vera Zvonareva, while Jakupovic had never previously gone beyond the second round of a WTA tournament.