INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA - A clash of unseeded former Top 30 players in the Oracle Challenger Series Indian Wells semifinals saw Irina-Camelia Begu overcome Lesia Tsurenko for the second time in a month, posting a 6-4, 6-4 victory in exactly one-and-a-half hours to reach her biggest final in three years.
Begu won February's Cairo ITF W100 event with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 win over Tsurenko in the final and, having been 1-3 against the Ukrainian before 2020, has now levelled their head-to-head at three apiece after meeting her twice as both make their way back up the rankings after injury-ravaged 2019 seasons. Knee and ankle injuries contributed to the former World No.22 sinking out of the Top 100 last May for the first time in five years, while 2018 US Open quarterfinalist Tsurenko only returned to action in January following a six-month hiatus due to an elbow injury - but today's win extends Begu's 2020 win-loss record to 14-4, and will see the Romanian safely back inside the Top 100 again.
The winner of four WTA Tour titles, most recently at Bucharest 2017, Begu came from a break down to take the first set, reeling off six out of seven games from 1-3 down to also take a break lead in the second. That would be a decidedly more nervy act, though, seeing seven breaks of serve in total - with former World No.23 Tsurenko's delivery proving increasingly problematic as she tallied five double faults. Begu, however, would rediscover her best serving when she needed to, snapping a streak of four straight breaks with an emphatic hold to 15 to close out the win.
The 29-year-old will meet another former Top 30 player, No.13 seed Misaki Doi, in the final after the Japanese player received a walkover from former World No.2 Vera Zvonareva due to the Russian suffering a right hip injury. Doi, champion last July at the Bastad 125K tournament, is currently riding an eight-match winning streak at this level.