After Jaqueline Cristian took another step toward a Top 100 breakthrough at the Astana Open, she praised former World No.1 Simona Halep for inspiring a younger generation of Romanian players.

Cristian reached her third WTA Tour quarterfinal of 2021 on Wednesday with a 6-7 (3) 6-1 6-2 win versus eighth seed Clara Burel in a second-round match that lasted 1 hour and 58 minutes in Nur-Sultan.

Cristian, who will play Aleksandra Krunic in Kazakhstan on Thursday, said the deeds of her compatriot Halep, a Wimbledon and Roland Garros champion, proved dreams could come true.

“She is the one who started to show us that it is possible,” Cristian said. "That gives you confidence.  

George Kopylov

“She is a great player, and I always tried to learn something from her. It is really motivating that someone from Romania made it like that, because it is hard.”

Cristian, who started the tournament at No.126, will leave Nur-Sultan with a career-high ranking this week regardless of what happens the rest of the way.

Krunic continued her good form from qualifying with a 6-4 6-3 victory over Kaja Juvan.

For Cristian, she has enjoyed some encouraging results in 2021 in her goal of securing a ranking inside the Top 100.

After qualifying for the WTA 500 St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy in March, Cristian defeated former Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko before falling to another major winner, Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Cristian also made the quarterfinals of the Palermo Ladies Open in July. 

Earlier this month, Cristian reached the semifinals of a WTA 125 in Karlsruhe, Germany.

“The main thing is to keep myself healthy,” Cristian said. “I know if I work hard enough, I am going to make it one day. I just want to get better every day.”