PALERMO, Italy -- Fiona Ferro fired her way into her first semifinal of the 2020 season on Friday, as she flummoxed two-time champion Sara Errani, 6-4, 6-1, in the Palermo Ladies Open quarterfinals.
World No.53 Ferro had beaten Errani in the qualifying rounds of Rabat last season, and the Frenchwoman has now picked up her first win over the Italian at WTA main-draw level after the 88-minute match, besting her run to last year's quarterfinals in Sicily.
Ferro followed up her second-round upset of No.8 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova as she obtained her third consecutive straight-set win of the week. The French player, who won her maiden WTA singles title last year on clay in Lausanne, converted six of her ten break points during the clash, and had 41 winners, more than double her unforced error count of 20.
"I was trying to be more patient, because in the beginning, I think I was rushing things a little bit," said Ferro, who won nine of the last ten games of the match. "So I just tried to take my time more, and it worked."
Former World No.5 Errani, the Palermo champion in 2008 and 2012, twice led by a break in the first set, as she hoped to continue the form that brought her a 180th career clay-court match-win in the second round, which leads all active players on the WTA. However, her steadfast clay-court craft was undone by winning just 38 percent of points off of her first serve during the tilt.
Errani used her typically stellar defense and depth of shot to notch a service break in the opening game. The Ferro forehand started to click into gear, though, and after missing a chance to break Errani at 2-1, the Frenchwoman pulled back level at 3-3.
An incredible 13-minute game with grueling rallies followed, as Ferro bravely fended off four break points held by the determined Errani. But a wide forehand error gave the Italian a fifth opportunity to break, which she claimed with a winning backhand to lead 4-3.
However, that would be the last stand for Errani in the opening frame. Ferro fired a backhand return winner down the line to tie the set up once more at 4-4, and after a quick hold for 5-4, the Frenchwoman knocked off three powerful forehands to reach triple set point in the next game.
After a netted backhand by Errani on the first set point, Ferro had successfully reeled off three straight games to claim the one-set lead. Ferro was bolstered by winning over half of Errani’s first-service points in the set, and she had 25 winners to just 13 unforced errors in that timeframe.
"It was good at the end of the first set, I started to play a great level of tennis, so I was happy with that," Ferro stated.
A backhand winner gave Ferro the first break of the second set to lead 2-0, and the Frenchwoman continued to dominate on return, claiming the first ten service points off of Errani's delivery while she built a 4-0 lead.
Errani notched a love break of her own to claw one game onto her line of the scoreboard, and had two game points at 4-1 to pull even closer. But Ferro kept grinding through another long game, and eventually clinched another service break on her third break point of the game with a return winner, to take a 5-1 lead.
Ferro had no trouble closing out the affair in the next game, firing a backhand winner to reach triple match point, and finishing off the victory on her first chance after one last forehand winner down the line.
The French player will now face either No.7 seed Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine or top Italian Camila Giorgi in the final four on Saturday.