Noma Noha Akugue has been the breakout sensation of the Hamburg European Open this week, and the 19-year-old wild card furthered the narrative with a 5-7, 6-4, 7-5 defeat of Martina Trevisan to reach the semifinals.
No.207-ranked Noha Akugue, who was born in the Hamburg metropolitan district to Nigerian parents, is competing in her first WTA main draw this week. However, she had previously served notice of her talent on a few occasions.
More Hamburg QF highlights: Shnaider d. Pera
In 2020, she became the youngest winner of the German National Championships at 17 years old, and she had already notched two Top 100 wins -- over Margarita Gasparyan in Stuttgart 2021 qualifying, and over Kateryna Baindl in Linz 2023 qualifying.
Her victory over No.76-ranked Trevisan was the best by ranking of her career so far, and showcased a wide skillset. Noha Akugue's raw power frequently drew gasps, and helped to net her 37 winners -- equaling her tally from the previous round, where she had defeated Storm Hunter 0-6, 7-6(2), 6-4. However, the teenager also delivered some deft drop shots, sharp reactions at net and excellent footspeed on defense.
But the way in which Noha Akugue battled through multiple momentum shifts was also testament to her resilience. In the first set, she came from 3-0 down to hold a set point at 5-4, only for Trevisan to raise her game to take the lead. From 2-0 down in the second set, Noha Akugue won eight of the next 10 games to turn the match around and hold a break lead in the decider.
Former Roland Garros semifinalist Trevisan responded again and served for the match at 5-4. But from there, Noha Akugue won 12 of the last 16 points, converting her first match point with a ferocious return winner after 2 hours and 42 minutes.
"I'm feeling good, I'm also proud," she said afterward. "I'm happy with my efforts today. It was emotional for me today and I just tried to fight and fight to the end."
This is becoming something of a theme this week: in the second round, Noha Akugue saved two match points against Hunter en route to overturning a 6-0, 5-3 deficit.
Noha Akugue will next face another fast-rising 19-year-old in Diana Shnaider. For the second week running, Shnaider ended Bernarda Pera's hopes of defending a title. Having dethroned the American in the first round of Budapest, Shnaider reprised the result 6-1, 2-6, 6-4 in Hamburg to reach her own maiden tour-level semifinal.
It will be the pair's first pro encounter, but Noha Akugue won their sole junior matchup 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 in the second round of the 2020 Plovdiv event.