Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil pulled off another three-set upset on Friday to reach the semifinals at the National Bank Open, overcoming No.12 seed Belinda Bencic of Switzerland 2-6, 6-3, 6-3.
Haddad Maia, ranked a career-high World No.24, took 2 hours and 11 minutes to battle past the 2015 National Bank Open champion Bencic. This week, Haddad Maia became the first Brazilian to reach the quarterfinals, and now the semifinals, of a WTA 1000 tournament.
Another milestone win: Haddad Maia came into the quarterfinals with her career-best win by ranking behind her. In the previous round, she upset World No.1 Iga Swiatek. Haddad Maia became the first Brazilian woman to beat a current No.1 player with her upset of Swiatek.
Bencic had a history of success against Haddad Maia coming into Friday's clash. Not only had Bencic defeated the Brazilian in their only tour-level match earlier this year in Sydney, she also beat Haddad Maia en route to her 2013 Junior Roland Garros title.
But it proved to be third time lucky for Haddad Maia. She won her first two WTA singles titles earlier this year, in back-to-back weeks on the grass courts of Nottingham and Birmingham.
Turning points: Bencic eased through the first set, but Haddad Maia leveled up in the second set, earning her first break of the day for a 2-1 lead with a pinpoint forehand winner on the sideline. Another break at 5-3 allowed Haddad Maia to tie the match.
After falling behind an early break in the third set, Haddad Maia slammed another powerful forehand to pull back on serve at 2-2. An additional winner from that side gave Haddad Maia the decisive break for 5-3, and she converted her third match point in the next game.
Haddad Maia is into her fifth semifinal at tour-level this season. Only Iga Swiatek (8) and Simona Halep (7) have reached more semifinals in 2022.
Pliskova overcomes Zheng: Haddad Maia's semifinal opponent will be No.14 seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, who outlasted China's Zheng Qinwen 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 in a match that ended just after midnight local time.
Former World No.1 Pliskova is one win away from making the National Bank Open final for the second straight year, though she had to battle for 2 hours and 33 minutes to end the run of surging 19-year-old Zheng, ranked 51st in the world.
In a clash between the two players who have hit the most aces this week, Pliskova slammed 10 more on Friday night. Zheng had six more winners than Pliskova, but the Czech was 5-for-8 on break points while Zheng converted only four of her 10.
Zheng came back from 3-0 down to steal the first set, and she nearly repeated the feat in the second set, charging back to make it 4-4. But Pliskova saved a break point to hold for 5-4, then broke to level the match.
The closely contested third set saw no service breaks through 4-3, but three in a row after that. Pliskova could not serve out the match at 5-3 after multiple double faults, but she used fiery crosscourt forehands to lead to match point in the next game, which she converted.
Haddad Maia and Pliskova have split their two previous meetings, both coming on hard court. Pliskova won handily in the second round of the 2018 Australian Open, but Haddad Maia got her revenge last year at Indian Wells.