No.6 seed Marta Kostyuk claimed bragging rights in the Transylvania Open quarterfinal clash between two of Generation 2002's leading lights, defeating No.3 seed Emma Raducanu 6-2, 6-1 in just 57 minutes.
Earlier, the top two seeds at the Transylvania Open had enjoyed fuss-free passages into the semifinals, with No.1 Simona Halep dispatching wildcard Jaqueline Cristian 6-1, 6-1 and No.2 Anett Kontaveit powering past No.8 Anhelina Kalinina 6-3, 6-1.
Kostyuk's victory puts the 19-year-old into her third semifinal of the season, following Abu Dhabi in January and Istanbul in April. She will bid to reach her maiden final against Halep, to whom she lost in the second round of Indian Wells last month.
"I put the fight in Indian Wells for one set and then I didn't play well in the second set, not a big fight, so I'm really hoping I can give as much fight as I can," said Kostyuk.
Keys to the match: Both teenagers fired 12 winners apiece, but it was Kostyuk who played more mature and versatile tennis, committing only 16 unforced errors compared to Raducanu's 41.
The Ukrainian displayed more nous regarding when to go for her shots and when to remain solid, while Raducanu's flashes of brilliance came in intermittent flurries. The US Open champion was also beset by seven double faults, two of which came in an opening game she lost from 40-15 up. Another two came back-to-back to drop serve at the start of the second set.
Attempting to power through Kostyuk's remarkably elastic defence only lured Raducanu into ever-wilder errors as the match progressed. The tie came alive somewhat in the final game, a seven-deuce mini-epic as Raducanu served to stay in the match. The Briton staved off three match points with clean winners, but shanked a backhand wide on the fourth.
Rivalry renewed: Prior to the match, Raducanu recalled of her junior contemporary: "She destroyed me every single time."
That wasn't quite accurate. The pair had only played twice in singles, with Raducanu winning a U12 meeting in Auray, France 6-1, 6-3 and Kostyuk an U14 encounter in Hasselt, Belgium 6-1, 6-1.
Kostyuk's memory was slightly better, triggered by being tagged on social media by Tennis Europe.
"The day before the [Auray] match Wilson came to me and they were like, we want to sign a contract with you," she recalled. "They gave me racquets and they gave me new strings. And I couldn't put the ball in court the next day.
"When I saw the head-to-head, I remembered how I played her once again [in Hasselt]. I remember playing her but I don't remember the match, it was so long ago."
In quotes: For Kostyuk, the one-sided scoreline all began in the first game.
"I don't know how I won the first game, I think that's where everything started," she said. "I somehow won that game and I gained this confidence, like I'm not going to lose this match. After that, by the fifth game maybe, I figured out how to play her - today. Maybe next time I play it's going to be different tactics.
"It was quick, but I couldn't read her - if her ball is in, it's really tough to do something. I was trying to put as many balls back as I could, and that's it."
Kontaveit's WTA Finals hopes stay alive, Halep still perfect against compatriots
Kontaveit's 62-minute defeat of Kalinina keeps the Estonian in the hunt for the last open spot at the Akron WTA Finals Guadalajara. She needs to win the title this week to overtake Ons Jabeur, who is currently No.8 in the Race to the WTA Finals.
Kontaveit was supremely efficient in taking another step towards that goal. Kalinina captured the first break of the match for a 2-1 lead, but Kontaveit immediately broke back and thereafter did not face another break point. She is now on a 13-match indoor winning streak following titles this autumn in Ostrava and Moscow, and has won 24 of her past 26 matches overall.
She will next face the unseeded Rebecca Peterson, who came through a bruising three-setter over qualifier Lesia Tsurenko 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 in one hour and 57 minutes. The Swede's heavy forehand was on fine form as she emerged on top of a number of high-quality baseline battles to reach her third semifinal of 2021 following the Chicago Women's Open and Nur-Sultan. Kontaveit won their only previous meeting, 10 years ago in the first round of an ITF $10K event in Stockholm in 2011, 6-4, 7-6(5).
Halep had suffered a "blocked back" during her second-round defeat of Varvara Gracheva, but showed little sign of being affected by it against compatriot Cristian. The former World No.1 played a solid match to preserve her 100% record against fellow Romanians; the contest was mostly decided by World No.105 Cristian's 46 unforced errors, countered by only eight winners.