BOGOTA, Colombia -- Astra Sharma of Australia moved into the first WTA semifinal of her career on Friday, winding her way past lucky loser Sara Errani of Italy, 6-1, 7-5, to reach the last four at the Claro Open Colsanitas.
"I thought I played really smart and just kept my composure," Sharma told the media, after her win. "It was a good match."
After a quick first set, World No.138 Sharma had to steel herself in the second set to put the hammer down on the wily former World No.5 and 2012 French Open finalist, but eventually collected her victory after one hour and 17 minutes of play.
Sharma had 32 winners but also had 35 unforced errors, 24 of which came in the second set. Errani, however, could only muster up four winners in total, and had 15 unforced errors, eight of which were double faults despite heavily relying on underhand serves as the match progressed.
Sharma had everything her way in the opening set, as her power game was on point, dispatching Errani’s serves as the Italian struggled mightily with her delivery. Sharma blasted big returns to pick up breaks at 2-1 and 4-1, while fending off all five of Errani’s break points. Sharma closed out the set with a forehand winner down the line to take a swift one-set lead.
Errani had no winners in the first set, and as the second set commenced, the Italian tried to fully change things up, by routinely throwing in underhand serves on most first deliveries, as well as her second serves. But Sharma seemed unfazed to start, breaking for 2-1 with a down-the-line forehand winner.
However, the guile of Errani’s service spins started to pay off as Sharma’s unforced error count mounted, and the Italian converted a break point for the first time, cracking a winner to reach parity at 2-2. Sharma reclaimed her break lead at 4-4 with a winning volley on the baseline, but, serving for the match, her miscues rose once more, and Errani pulled back to 5-5.
The Australian finally settled down enough to take control of the match at the very end, using more sound returning to break again for 6-5. Serving for the match again, Sharma kept her cool, and was rewarded with a forehand winner that dribbled over the netcord to claim triple match point. One final forehand winner ended the affair, and Sharma sealed a first-ever WTA semifinal.
23-year-old Sharma will face No.11 seed Lara Arruabarrena of Spain in the semifinals, after Arruabarrena defeated No.5 seed Tamara Zidansek of Slovenia, 6-4, 6-2, earlier on Friday.
Arruabarrena has had a ton of success at the Claro Open Colsanitas. The Spaniard won the title in 2012, reached the final the last two years, and has never failed to reach at least the quarterfinals in all seven of her appearances, compiling a 23-5 win-loss record at the event over her career.
This will be the first meeting between Sharma and Arruabarrena. "I know [Arruabarrena is] going to make a lot of balls, obviously she’s a really good player, Spanish, is comfortable on clay," Sharma stated. "Just knowing that I’m going to have a long match tomorrow."