PALERMO, Italy -- Another late-night epic went the way of the Italians this week, as Camila Giorgi fought past No.7 seed Dayana Yastremska, 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-3, to book a spot in the Palermo Ladies Open semifinals.
Giorgi, the top Italian in the WTA singles rankings, survived two match points in the second set before engineering a stellar comeback to overcome the World No.25 from Ukraine in two hours and 52 minutes, wrapping up the match at nearly 1:30 a.m. local time.
"It was more mental, the match, because I was very close always," Giorgi said, in her post-match press conference. "I needed to take the chances in the right way. I took them in the match points for her, and I started to be more aggressive in my game, and I started to move more forward, and tried to dominate the game."
Giorgi had a similar challenging win over Yastremska in Rabat qualifying in 2017, but their previous WTA main-draw showing had gone the way of Yastremska, at Wimbledon last year. Nevertheless, Giorgi fought back on home soil, in her first appearance at the event, to extend the homeland presence all the way to the final four.
The World No.89 was the last-remaining Italian in the field, after earlier quarterfinal losses by Elisabetta Cocciaretto and Sara Errani, but Giorgi stunned Yastremska in the hard-hitting affair, blasting away the pair of match points with aggressive returns, then winning nearly 80 percent of points returning Yastremska's second serve in the final set.
Giorgi will now face Fiona Ferro of France in the semifinals. Ferro has slid into the semifinals without the loss of a set, including her quarterfinal win over two-time Palermo champion Sara Errani on Friday.
"I think it’s going to be a good match, for sure," said Giorgi, looking forward to her semifinal. "I’m going to focus on my game and see what I need to improve for tomorrow."
To start the encounter, an early exchange of breaks led to parity at 3-3, where Giorgi faced four break points. The Italian fended off the first three, but Yastremska blasted a strong error-forcing service return on the fourth to go up a break at 4-3.
The Ukrainian held onto that lead and served for the set at 5-4, but a double fault gave Giorgi a break point and a chance to level the set once more. However, two missed groundstrokes by Giorgi let Yastremska off the hook, as the No.7 seed garnered set point.
Big hitting from Giorgi allowed her to erase that set point, as well as three more in the protracted game. Giorgi, though, was never able to reach break point again in the game, and after Yastremska slammed an ace to claim a fifth set point, the Ukrainian finally finished off the set after a Giorgi forehand went wide.
The second set started similarly to the first, as matching breaks at the start led to 3-3. In that game, Yastremska again broke Giorgi after a lengthy tussle once the Italian flew a forehand miscue wide on the third break point.
Yastremska was a point away from twin 6-4 sets, as she earned her first match point with an ace at 5-4, and then grasped a second with a forehand winner. Both of those times, though, Giorgi used powerful returns to whisk them away, and on her third break point of the game, the Italian’s blocked service return was too short for Yastremska to reach in time, leveling the set at 5-5.
The pair moved into the tiebreak, where Giorgi jumped ahead to a dominant lead, acing Yastremska to reach 4-0. A cracking backhand winner down the line gave Giorgi 5-1, and she eased to a 6-3 lead. Though Yastremska erased the first two set points, Giorgi’s service on the third was too strong for Yastremska, and the homeland hope had squeaked out the second set.
Yastremska had chances to take the first clear lead in the decider, slamming stunning returns to earn two break points at 3-2. But the powerful depth of Giorgi’s aggressive mindset was pinpoint in the final set, and she gritted out a hold for 3-3.
The Ukrainian faltered in the next game, hitting three of her 16 double faults as she was broken for the first time in the set. Now holding a 4-3 lead, Giorgi continued to aim for the lines and was rewarded with a gutsy hold for 5-3.
Giorgi continued to power her way through the next game, and after a netted groundstroke by Yastremska ended a rally, Giorgi had a match point of her own. There, another solid return by the Italian forced a wide error, and the partisans in Palermo had a national favorite one round further in the draw.