Jil Teichmann triumphed in an all-Swiss quarterfinal at the Western & Southern Open on Friday night, ousting the 10th-seeded Olympic gold medalist Belinda Bencic, 6-3, 6-2, to claim a spot in the final four in Cincinnati.
World No.76 Teichmann, a wildcard into the event, needed just 71 minutes to knock out her higher-ranked countrywoman, ending Bencic's nine-match winning streak which crested with a victory over Marketa Vondrousova in the Olympics final.
The victory continues a stellar week for Teichmann, who earned her career-best win by ranking when she eliminated World No.2 Naomi Osaka in the round of 16 on Thursday.
Hardcourt surge: Teichmann, twice a WTA singles champion on clay courts in 2019 (Prague and Palermo), has now replicated the hardcourt success she had earlier in 2021 before her season was derailed by left leg injuries.
In the first quarter of this year, Teichmann reached the quarterfinals at the Phillip Island Trophy, the semifinals in Adelaide, and the semifinals in Dubai in successive hardcourt tournaments. This week is the first time since Dubai that Teichmann has notched consecutive wins on tour.
Key stats: Against Bencic, Teichmann was pristine and powerful on serve. The wildcard was down 0-40 in her very first service game, but completely turned it around from there, winning 84 percent of her first-service points. Teichmann saved all five of the break points she faced in the affair.
Teichmann, who out-winnered Bencic by 23 to 9, is the lowest-ranked Western & Southern Open semifinalist since World No.151 Sloane Stephens in 2017. Teichmann is bidding to become the fourth straight unseeded finalist at the event.
Notable quotes: "I felt good since the beginning," Teichmann told the press, after her win. "I served well...the short balls, I went in. I was defending well. I was moving good. I think everything kind of worked out for me today."
"We hugged before the match; we hugged after the match," Teichmann said, regarding her clash with her compatriot and friend. "We know that once we step on court it's business, it's just another player I have to deal with, and she had the same mindset. At the beginning it's obviously a bit special, but once we're in it, we just look at the game, not looking at the opponent, or at least I do that way."
Next up for Teichmann will be a semifinal clash with No.5 seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic. It will be the first meeting between Teichmann and Pliskova.
Pliskova, this year's Wimbledon runner-up, moved into the semifinals after Paula Badosa of Spain retired from their match due to a right shoulder injury while Pliskova was leading 7-5, 2-0.
Former World No.1 Pliskova won the Cincinnati title in 2016, and is now in the semifinals of the Western & Southern Open for the third time in her career.
In her previous match, Pliskova beat her 2021 nemesis, Jessica Pegula, for the first time in five tries, but she had to come back from dire deficits in each set to do so: 1-4 down in the first set, and 0-5 down in the second set.
Pliskova faced a similar scenario against World No.29 Badosa, as the Spaniard drew errors from the Czech to post a 4-0 advantage. Badosa had four chances to break again and lead 5-0, but Pliskova gritted through that game to get on the scoreboard, and suddenly, the match turned.
Pliskova picked off five straight games from there to lead 5-4, and after Badosa stopped that run to hold for 5-5, the rising Spaniard called for the trainer to have her shoulder looked at.
After a medical time-out at 6-5, Badosa dropped her serve at love to cede the one-set lead to Pliskova. Badosa could only make it through two games in the second set before she deemed herself unable to continue.