MONTERREY. Mexico - No.4 seed Timea Babos, the only former champion remaining in the Abierto GNP Seguros draw, put on a brilliant performance to oust No.5 seed Monica Puig 6-4, 6-2 in the quarterfinals.
The Hungarian's win avenged her loss to Puig by the same scoreline in their only previous encounter, six years ago in the first round of an ITF $50,000 tournament in Kansas City.
This time, the 2012 Monterrey titlist was utterly dominant on serve. Hammering down eight aces, she would not face a break point over the whole match - and indeed would only be taken to deuce once. Puig would garner just eight points on return, losing the final 13 in a row as Babos closed the match out with three consecutive love holds.
The World No.44 was also watertight from the baseline, compiling an impressive ratio of 19 winners to a mere four unforced errors. Champion in Taipei City in February already this year, Babos will now be shooting for her eighth career final.
Her next opponent will be No.7 seed Sachia Vickery, who continued her breakthrough form of 2018 by stunning No.2 seed Magdalena Rybarikova 6-0, 6-3 to make her second semifinal of the year. Having been 0-4 in WTA quarterfinals prior to this year, the American has now triumphed in two straight - both by defeating a Top 30 opponent for the loss of four or fewer games, following her 6-2, 6-2 win over Agnieszka Radwanska in the last eight of Auckland in January.
The one-hour, 13-minute match was less one-sided than the scoreline suggests - but the tenacious Vickery would prove superior at coming through its tightest moments. The World No.91 won six out of eight deuce games, including all three in the first set, and fended off all four break points she faced.
Rounding out the final four is No.6 seed Ana Bogdan, who maintained her unbeaten record in WTA quarterfinals to reach her third career semifinal, defeating Danielle Collins 6-2, 6-4. The Romanian, playing her first tournament since February, had required a third-set tiebreak to squeeze past wildcard Victoria Rodriguez in the first round - but hit peak form against the Miami semifinalist, striking 12 aces and 30 winners while keeping her unforced error count to a meagre seven.
"I was very focused from the beginning," Bogdan told the press afterwards. "When I got on the court, I said, 'Give everything you have - the best you have - and fight from the beginning to the end.'"
The 25-year-old's next task will also require this kind of positive outlook: in the semifinals, she takes on No.1 seed Garbiñe Muguruza. "I hope I can play the same - or better! - match tomorrow," she laughed.