Beatriz Haddad Maia is earning a reputation as the iron woman of the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open. The Brazilian No.6 seed won her third three-setter in as many matches against No.3 seed Elena Rybakina on Friday to reach the semifinals at the WTA 500 event.
Less than 24 hours after completing a 3 hour, 13-minute win over Yulia Putintseva, the second-longest match of the WTA season so far, Haddad Maia was again forced to rally from behind to oust the reigning Wimbledon champion and Australian Open finalist.
In the pair's first meeting, Haddad Maia dropped the opening set before coming back for a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 win. She survived 19 aces off of Rybakina's racquet, and never lost serve in the second and third sets, to secure the 2-hour, 4-minute triumph.
Words from the winner: Haddad Maia had also dropped the opening set in her first-round win against Marie Bozukova, and broke Putintseva when she served for the match in the eventual 6-4, 6-7(5), 7-6(4) victory the finished after midnight.
Facing both Rybakina's vaunted serve, and the quick turnaround, were challenges that Haddad Maia said she relished.
"Today was a very tough battle. Rybakina, she's a very good player, one of the best players in the world ... so I knew I had to push myself every single game, especially on her serve," Haddad Maia said. "I was trying to find a way to return, to break her, to give myself one more chance, and I'm happy with my win.
"I think I slept at 3 a.m. last night [after beating Putintseva]. The adrenaline was in my body. I left, after the physio, at almost 1 o'clock. ... It's not easy to celebrate one win knowing that you play right after in a few hours. I was in the gym this morning ... but I love that."
Stat of the day: Haddad Maia has now won her last six matches against Top 10 opposition in a streak that dates back four years. She lost her first six matches against such players.
Samsonova ousts doubles partner Kudermetova
The last semifinal berth was decided between doubles partners. No.8 seed Liudmila Samsonova toppled No.4 seed Veronika Kudermetova 6-3, 6-3 to book her first semifinal of the season.
Samsonova had yet to win back-to-back matches this year, but has now won three at her fourth event of 2023. She leveled her head-to-head against her higher-ranked partner in a comprehensive 83-minute performance in which she never lost serve.