NEW HAVEN, CT, USA - Defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska is back into the semifinals of the Connecticut Open for the second time after a hard-fought straight-sets win over Peng Shuai.
Peng has proved to be a difficult opponent for Radwanska during their nine-year rivalry; the pair are locked at 3-3 in their previous head-to-head record, with Peng winning their most recent encounter at Indian Wells earlier in the season.
But Radwanska, who is still seeking her first title of the year, was able to keep the Chinese player contained, winning 7-5, 6-3 after just under two hours.
“She’s definitely a tough opponent, I’ve played her a few times before so I knew what I had to do,” Radwanska said. “I really pushed myself even more than 100% today.
“I’m very, very happy that I could get this revenge.”
Peng and Radwanska were very evenly matched for most of their quarterfinal battle, trading breaks to start and testing each other’s game. But while Radwanska had little trouble on her service games, it was Peng who struggled to hold serve as the Pole kept her under pressure and pushing her to deuce, eventually earning the decisive break for 6-5.
After plucking a return out of the air with a lunging volley to set up set point, Radwanska took the opening set with a laser backhand that Peng dumped back into the net.
The pair traded breaks again to start the second set, and though the Chinese player was able to hang with Radwanska for the opening exchanges, her unforced errors began to mount as the set went on. Radwanska got the decisive break at 3-2, compounding it with another break as she closed out the match after an hour and 49 minutes on court.
The top seed will face Daria Gavrilova next for a shot at a return to the New Haven final; the Australian defeated Belgian qualifier Kirsten Flipkens 6-2, 6-4.
“Playing someone for the first time is very challenging, but also very exciting after so many years on the tour playing the same players,” she said. “It’s very nice to play someone for the first time.
“I know [Gavrilova] can play really good tennis, she’s a great fighter. So we’ll see tomorrow.”