QUEBEC CITY, Canada - No.8 seed Pauline Parmentier reached her first semifinal in nearly five months at the Coupe Banque Nationale présentée par IGA on Friday, as she ousted American Varvara Lepchenko, 7-6(7), 6-1.
Parmentier became the highest-seeded player remaining in the top half of the draw early in the week, as No.1 seed Aryna Sabalenka, No.4 seed Monica Niculescu and No.7 seed Tatjana Maria all fell in first-round upsets.
Nearly a decade after the pair's first meeting - won by Parmentier in two tiebreaks in 2009 - the Frenchwoman won a pair of contrasting sets against Lepchenko to reach her first tour-level semifinal since winning the Istanbul Cup in April.
Lepchenko started strongly in her pursuit of a second upset of a seeded player this week, having been the author of the upset of Sabalenka in the first round, as she won three of the first four games played in the match on Court Banque Nationale.
Nonetheless, the World No.69 rallied from a break down in the opener and saved a set point on serve in the 10th game, before coming from 4-1 down and saving another set point to pocket the ensuing tiebreak.
"It was a really tough match. The first set was really, really tight. I had some trouble with the return early," Parmentier assessed.
"It's difficult to play a lefty and on this kind of surface, the slice was really tough. In the first set, I was just happy to win it, and in the second set, I broke pretty early and then I was feeling pretty good with my game."
In the second set, Parmentier broke twice en route to winning the first five games, and though Lepchenko saved the bagel by holding serve after facing two match points, the American was unable to pull of a second victory over a seeded player this week.
The French No.4 eventually sealed victory on her fifth opportunity overall, and third in the next game, to move through to the final four in just over 80 minutes on her debut at the event.
"I'm really happy and ready for the semifinals," Parmentier said. "The city and the people, I'm really happy to come here for the first time. I'm a little bit sad I waited 10 years to come here...but I've had a really, really good week."