TIANJIN, China – Veronika Kudermetova moved through to the semifinals of the Tianjin Open with a 73-minute 6-4, 6-0 victory over No.3 seed Dayana Yastremska.
The Russian got the better of a hard-hitting battle to tee up a final-four encounter with Britain’s Heather Watson on Saturday.
It was a match that hinged largely on raw power, but it was the 22-year-old who had the edge in terms of her control, illustrated by the 20 unforced errors she hit to her opponent's 34. Meanwhile, they were evenly matched on 12 winners each.
“I tried to focus on every point and every game... I got a few lucky points but that’s how it is,” the victor, who is eyeing a maiden Tour title, said.
“I didn’t control the whole match. She tried to push me, I tried to push her. I tried to play more aggressively and I think that was key for the match.
“Of course I want to win, but I’ll try to play match-by-match and win my first title.”
The early signs for Yastremska were positive as she held to love, with Kudermetova struggling to find her range with her groundstrokes. This soon came, however, and after battling to hold serve she broke to 15.
Yastremska, initially, was a persistent threat. She forced Kudermetova to deuce in her first three service games but had three break points rebuffed before she ultimately earned a deserved break.
By that point, however, the teenager was fighting simply to stay in the set, having dropped her own serve once more. It was a deficit that the Ukrainian ultimately found too great to overcome, with Kudermetova completing her only comfortable service game of the opening set to push her way ahead.
Although Yastremska had made 83% of her first serves in the opening set, her inability to close out close games was counting heavily against her.
— WTA (@WTA) October 11, 2019
This malady continued at the beginning of the second set. She seemed to have wrestled control of the game by emphatically saving break point after a controversial call, but instead missed three chances to get on the board and was broken.
As Kudermetova consolidated the break in the following game, Yastremska again pushed the WTA World No.45 hard, but despite forcing three deuces was unable to earn even a break point on this occasion.
Mentally, it appeared to have a wearing effect and she fell 3-0 and a double break behind courtesy of a double fault.
The zest she showed when attacking the Kudermetova serve also dissipated to an extent, although the Russian had hit an impressive groove with that shot, and as she sat down at the changeover facing a 5-0 deficit, having been broken once more, she showed her frustration in an animated fashion.
Kudermetova closed out the set and the match by holding to love, taking another high-profile scalp to add to that of Belinda Bencic, who she overcame in Wuhan. She now holds a 5-6 record against players in the Top 30 and is arguably the player to beat going into the weekend.