STRASBOURG, France - No.4 seed Kristina Mladenovic reached her first semifinal of the season with a 6-4, 6-2 win over qualifier and fellow doubles star Alla Kudryavtseva at the Internationaux de Strasbourg.
Mladenovic took to court 24 hours after clinching an epic third set tie-break over Alison Riske, and exchanged four straight service breaks to start against Kudryavtseva, a former World No.56 who was playing her first WTA quarterfinal in nearly 18 months.
"It was a quick match and it's the ideal scenario before a semifinal, to be able to get some rest and not walk out on the court tomorrow tired," Mladenovic told wtatennis.com after the match.
"I changed up my shots a lot today which i think was the key."
Settling quicker, the French youngster survived losing serve in the penultimate games of each set to ease past the hard-hitting veteran, who is poised to move up over 30 spots following a run through qualifying that saw her take out No.9 seed Alizé Cornet in the first round.
Mladenovic became the third from her country to advance into the Strasbourg semifinals on Thursday, after Caroline Garcia and Virginie Razzano both reached the final four; the last time three French women made it this far at a WTA tournament was in 2006, when Tatiana Golovin, Mary Pierce and Amélie Mauresmo all contested for the Paris Indoor title - ultimately won by Mauresmo.
Mirjana Lucic-Baroni ended the hopes of a first French shutout for the first time since the 1999 Generali Ladies Linz (Mauresmo, Pierce, Sarah Pitkowski, Sandrine Testud), defeating Pauline Parmentier, 6-0, 6-1, to complete the semifinal line-up.
"You always want people from your county to do well and it's great for French Tennis in general, and nice for the fans here - this is our home," Mladenovic said of the high level of French success in Strasbourg.
Lucic-Baroni is not only in her first WTA semifinal of the season, but this is the farthest she has been in Strasbourg since 1997 when, within weeks of turning pro at 15 years old, she reached the final - falling to former No.1 and WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai Tournament Ambassador Stefanie Graf.
"It was pretty perfect," the veteran said after the match. "You can't ask for much more. I've been playing really well. And she's a great player. It's just I played really well today and didn't let her in."
Forced into qualifying after failing to enter the tournament in time ended up being an auspicious opportunity to the Croat to play her way into form, upsetting No.8 seed Timea Babos earlier in the week.
"I missed the deadline by one day - one day!" She laughed. "So I entered qualies. I got two extra matches and it was a really good decision, clearly.
"I've been here a few times, but many years ago. It a beautiful tournament, a beautiful city and right before Roland Garros, so it's good for confidence."
A former World No.16, Razzano continues to play her best tennis in Strasbourg, reaching her second straight semifinal at the WTA International, again beating Elena Vesnina in the quarterfinals, 6-1, 3-6, 6-1.
"It's great to be in the semifinal - my first for a long time!" the veteran exclaimed after the match. "It was a quick turn around from last night's win. Right now I'm playing well.
"Today against Vesnina it wasn't easy despite the scores in the first and third set. I've found my rhythm and it's been building from my wins against Shvedova, Puig and playing in qualies.
"I'm working hard. Today it's paid off."
Garcia was the second Frenchwoman to advance with Samantha Stosur was forced to withdraw from the event citing a left wrist injury.
"I have had some pain in my left wrist for the last few days," the Aussie said. "I tried to practice yesterday and felt a lot of discomfort and unfortunately I can't take to the court today.
"It's difficult as I've rarely had to withdraw from a match in my career.
"I've played some good tennis here this week and I'm disappointed I won't be able to properly defend my title here in Strasbourg ."