'S-HERTOGENBOSCH, Netherlands -- 20-year-old Viktoria Kuzmova of Slovakia reached her second WTA semifinal of the season with a straightforward 6-3, 6-2 victory over German qualifier Antonia Lottner at the Libéma Open on Friday.
Lottner was playing her second match of the day, having polished off a stunning victory over No.2 seed and World No.15 Elise Mertens of Belgium in the morning. But the German was unable to claim a second win over a higher-ranked opponent, as Kuzmova blasted her way through the 68-minute match with a whopping 27 winners, including eight aces.
Kuzmova, who reached the semifinals in Budapest earlier in the year, will take on former Wimbledon semifinalist Kirsten Flipkens in the final four. Flipkens picked up two wins on Friday, defeating No.3 seed Kiki Bertens in the second round, 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-1, before ousting Aryna Sabalenka in the quarterfinals, 6-4, 6-4.
Kuzmova leapt to a big lead in the first set, racing to 5-2 behind solid serving and comprehensive winners off the forehand side. In that game, the Slovak reached double set point after a brilliant lob went over the German for a winner, but Lottner was able to repel both opportunities and hold for 5-3.
Serving for the set, Kuzmova fell behind 0-30 with two long forehand miscues, but the World No.81 rebounded with a forehand winner and an ace to pull back to 30-30. Another solid serve queued up a third set point for Kuzmova, this time on her own serve, and she converted it with a stirring crosscourt forehand for a winner.
It was a dominant opening frame for Kuzmova, who had 12 winners to Lottner's two, blasted four aces, and never faced a break point throughout the entire set.
It was more of the same in the second set, as Kuzmova took the early lead by breaking Lottner for 1-0, and never looked back from there. The Slovak, one of the newest entrants to the WTA Top 100, staved off the only two break points against her in the following game, recovering from 15-40 and closing out the game with three aces in a row to lead 2-0.
Lottner, who received treatment from the physio partway through the second set, was never able to get a handle on the Kuzmova game following her unexpected victory over Mertens just hours earlier, but continued to prolong the match. The German zoomed through her service game at 5-1 with powerful serving of her own, forcing Kuzmova to serve for the match at 5-2.
But Kuzmova was unfazed by the pressure, and quickly reached match point in that game. The young Slovak completed the match with her eighth ace of the day, and coolly took her spot in Saturday's semifinals against Flipkens.
More to follow...