PALERMO, Italy - As Friday became Saturday in Sicily, top seed Kiki Bertens rounded out the semifinalists at the Ladies' Open Palermo.
Bertens needed three sets and nearly two hours to finally see off the last Italian remaining in the draw, Jasmine Paolini, in the last quarterfinal match, 6-4, 1-6, 6-1.
In a match that began shortly after 11:30 p.m. local time, following a marathon victory for Russian lucky loser Liudmila Samsonova over Fiona Ferro, Bertens served seven aces and broke serve twice in each set she won to seal victory in one hour and 49 minutes.
"I think she's a great player," Bertens said. "She's playing in front of the home crowd, so she was really fired up to win."
— WTA (@WTA) July 26, 2019
Paolini, ranked World No.142, showed what she could do in a stunning middle set against the World No.5, which thrilled the home crowd that stayed late into the night to support her.
In the second set, Paolini landed 85 percent of her first serves and dropped just four points in her four service games, breaking an increasingly erratic Bertens twice to seal a breadstick.
After hitting 12 winners to 20 unforced errors in the first set, Bertens could not balance out her total as well in the second set, of which Paolini duly took advantage.
Despite only hitting five winners, Paolini made just three unforced herself, as Bertens hit 12 unforced to just four winners en route to losing the last five games.
However, with the sizable crowd that remained firmly in her corner, the inexperienced Italian, playing in her second career WTA quarterfinal, could not push her momentum far into the decider.
The World No.5 held serve despite being taken to deuce to begin the set, and after breaking the 23-year-old Italian immediately, took a lead she never relinquished.
In three subsequent service games, Bertens dropped just two points, and added an insurance break from 30-0 down in the sixth game to ulitmately grind down the resistance of the Italian No.2.