When Bianca Andreescu and Irina-Camelia Begu play, bring popcorn and settle in.
In the latest edition of their rivalry in the Phillip Island Trophy quarterfinals, Andreescu's comeback took another step forward after the Canadian toughed out a 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(5) win over Begu in two hours and 25 minutes. It was the fourth three-setter the pair have played in as many meetings, and the third in a row that Andreescu has won.
The 2019 US Open champion needed to come from a break down in the deciding set to quell Begu today - not the first time she has overturned a deficit against the Romanian. Back in 2019, the two met in back-to-back first rounds in what would be a transformative month for Andreescu. In her Indian Wells opener, she came from a set down to beat Begu 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-3. A fortnight later, as the newly crowned champion of that tournament, she fell behind 4-6, 1-5 to Begu in Miami - but roared back to steal victory 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-2.
Those were tough acts to follow, but Wednesday's encounter did not disappoint, with the ebbs and flows of the scoreboard making for an unpredictable contest. Andreescu came from an early break down to take six of the last seven games of the first set, before Begu hit back to take a 5-1 second-set lead.
That nearly wasn't enough: Andreescu responded by taking 13 of the next 16 points to erode the World No.74's lead, but Begu would manage to serve the set out at the second time of asking to force a decider. As in the first set, Begu took the first lead before Andreescu, striking her forehand with relish, turned a 0-2 deficit into a 5-3 lead.
This time, though, Andreescu would be unable to serve out the match, yelling afterwards in frustation: "Play tennis!" But ultimately, the 20-year-old's fortitude in the biggest moments paid off. Andreescu would hit fewer winners (21 to 22) and more unforced errors (44 to 40) than Begu over the course of the match, but at 5-5 in the deciding tiebreak it was a Begu forehand that sailed wide before Andreescu nailed a forehand winner down the line to clinch victory.
In the last four, Andreescu will face No.13 seed Marie Bouzkova, who came through 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 over Jil Teichmann. A high-quality and tightly contested match took an unfortunate turn when Teichmann went over on her ankle at 2-3 in the third set. Though the Swiss World No.58 resumed play following medical treatment, the remainder of the encounter would be one-way traffic for Bouzkova, who sealed her first semifinal place since making the Monterrey final last March.
In the top half of the draw, matters were simpler for No.8 seed Danielle Collins and former World No.10 Daria Kasatkina. Collins dismissed No.16 seed Rebecca Peterson 6-1, 6-2 and Kasatkina upset No.4 seed Petra Martic 6-0, 6-4 to set up an intriguing stylistic contrast in the semifinals.