Teenage qualifier Clara Tauson's breakout run continued at the Open 6ème Sens - Métropole de Lyon with a 6-3, 6-1 win against Camila Giorgi to reach her first WTA semifinal in 1 hour and 10 minutes.
The World No.139 Tauson is competing in her third WTA main draw and has yet to lose more than four games per set in any of her five matches this week. Tauson, who upset No.1 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova in the first round, is also on a nine-match winning streak after capturing the Altenkirchen ITF W25 title last month. Her 2021 record is 17-3.
"I've been playing better, serving better especially," said Tauson, who won 22 of 27 points behind her first serve. "The more matches I play, the better I get, and the better players I play, the better I play. By now I've played more and more matches against [Top 100] players, so I feel more comfortable. I don't go scared on court like I used to. I was all the time happy to play against them, now I want to win against them. My mentality has changed a lot this past year - thinking I can beat these players on a regular basis."
Tauson dominated both from the baseline and on serve Friday. A cagy opening passage of play saw an early exchange of breaks, but after Tauson nailed a backhand return winner to take a 3-2 lead, she took control of the match.
From there, Tauson, 18, would lose only another six points behind her delivery, firing six aces in total. Three of those came in the final game as she served out the win in authoritative fashion. Tauson was particularly satisfied with this aspect of her game afterwards.
"It's my main goal in every match to get my first serve percentage up, and the winning percentage behind it," Tauson said. "Following the first serve up with good shots after it is my focus as well."
By contrast, Giorgi would be plagued by eight double faults. She grew increasingly error-prone as the match drew on. In general, Tauson's game proved more well-rounded. The former junior World No.1 was able not only to create formidable pace on her forehand wing but to pull off a number of fine winners from defensive positions as well.
Giorgi's hard-hitting game had not been a surprise for Tauson, who considers herself something of a tennis nerd.
"I've watched her so much on TV, so I was prepared for the ball coming fast," Tauson said. "But I really think I matched her game today - I don't want to say I played as fast as her but I think she was also under pressure when my balls were fast.
"You can ask me anything, I know everything about all the scores there are right now and have been before. It's fun for me - I like watching tennis, I like knowing all the players and all the results. You will never find me in a difficult position if you ask me anything about tennis - I know everything. My coach says I am the Wikipedia of tennis results!"
Tauson will next face No.7 seed Paula Badosa, who overcame a series of momentum shifts to beat No.4 seed Kristina Mladenovic 7-5, 6-7(5), 6-2 in 2 hours and 36 minutes.
The Spaniard trailed 3-5 in the first set, but saved two set points in fine fashion before sealing it with a delicate volley. In the second set, the pattern almost repeated. A pair of efficient Badosa one-two punches staved off two set points for Mladenovic at 5-4, but in the ensuing tiebreak the Frenchwoman managed to take her fourth thanks to a dead net cord.
All the momentum was with Mladenovic heading into the decider, and the World No.53 took an immediate 2-0 lead. But Badosa gathered herself to reel off six games in a row, finishing with a flourish as she nailed a forehand winner on her first match point.
Both Badosa, who has made her third WTA semifinal following Palermo 2019 and Istanbul 2020, and Tauson will be bidding for their maiden final.
The second semifinal will feature Fiona Ferro, the highest-ranked Frenchwoman, against another qualifier who has advanced into the final four, Viktorija Golubic.
No.2 seed Ferro became the last-remaining homeland hope as she overcame a spirited effort by her 19-year-old compatriot Clara Burel, prevailing 2-6, 6-1, 6-3.
Ferro won nearly three-quarters of points off of Burel's second serve to help her shake off the loss of the first set and advance to her first semifinal of the season.
The hour-and-a-half victory puts Ferro into her fourth WTA-level semifinal and places her one win away from her third career final. When the World No.46 reaches a WTA final, she is yet to lose, picking up titles at 2019 Lausanne and 2020 Palermo.
Switzerland's Golubic improved to 6-5 in WTA singles quarterfinals with her 6-3, 7-6(0) victory over Greet Minnen of Belgium.
Golubic, who has one WTA singles title to her credit (2016 Gstaad), continues a solid run of form which has seen her win a title, reach a final, and make a semifinal in her last three events on the ITF Challenger tour.
Golubic saw a commanding 4-0 lead be winnowed to 5-3 in the opening set, but the qualifier was able to regroup and break for the one-set lead.
Minnen held the early advantage in the second set, moving ahead 4-2. However, when Minnen served for the set at 5-4, Golubic pounced, firing a deft lob to set up a finishing volley to earn break point, which was converted after an ill-timed Minnen double fault.
The pair advanced to the tiebreak, where outstanding forecourt play by Golubic helped her build a quick 3-0 lead. Golubic rolled on from there to claim every point in the breaker and move one step closer to a third career WTA singles final.