Barbora Strycova overcame a late surge from former World No.1 Caroline Wozniacki to advance into the Apia International Sydney semifinals.
WTA Staff

SYDNEY, Australia - Unseeded Czech veteran Barbora Strycova earned the most impressive win of the still-early season, outlasting former World No.1 Caroline Wozniacki, 7-5, 6-7(6), 6-4, to reach the semifinals of the Apia International Sydney.

Strycova last played Wozniacki two years ago at this very tournament, where the Dane retired due to injury. But both women were in rare form on Wednesday, battling for a whopping three hours under the hot Sydney sun.

The first set featured seven breaks of serve, and though Wozniacki was able to level proceedings as Strycova served at 5-4, the No.10 seed lost the final two games and started the second set in need of momentum.

Wozniacki found some as she raced ahead 3-0, but found herself a game from elimination as she lost five of the next six games.

Strycova couldn't serve it out but grabbed a 5-0 lead in the ensuing tie-break. The two-time US Open runner-up ran off an impressive streak to steal the second set and earn a 3-1 lead in the decider.

Strycova found her footing when it mattered most, coming out on top of a trio of service breaks to earn a crucial hold in the ninth game and put herself into her first semifinal in Sydney.

"For me it was good to have the 10 minutes' heat rule in. [After the second set] I was sitting in the locker room actually not thinking about the set, not thinking about the future, just how to recover fast," Strycova said. "At the beginning of the third set, I was down and not moving very well. But then I was saying to myself, keep going. Don't say anything. Don't be negative. Just play point by point.

"That actually helped me. And I was playing very well when it was 3-3, the game, even I lost it. And then I was confident in finding a way to finish it."

Wozniacki was in good spirits despite the loss, brushing off the pressure of the hot hot heat.

"You just try and think like you're on a beach drinking pina coladas," she joked. "That's basically your train of thought. You know that it's the same for both players, so I was just trying to mentally just try and keep cool. But it was really, really hot out there.

"On the positive side of things, I can eat whatever I want now because I have burned a lot of calories today!"