Top seed Elina Svitolina was the last through to the final four at the TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Cup, joining Fed Cup heroine Elise Mertens, who ousted defending champion Cagla Buyukakcay earlier in the day.
WTA Staff

ISTANBUL, Turkey - Top seed Elina Svitolina kept hopes of a tour-leading third title alive on Friday, dismissing No.5 seed Sorana Cirstea, 6-4, 6-4 to become the fourth and final semifinalist at this year's TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Cup.

“A win is a win, and it was a good match,” she said in her post-match press conference. “She’s the kind of player where you don’t know what to expect. She’s very aggressive, and plays good angles. I needed to be focused almost all the time.”

The Ukrainian youngster is coming off a successful Fed Cup weekend that saw her earn a fourth straight win over former No.1 Angelique Kerber in Stuttgart. But rather than play the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, she had other plans.

“I decided to play here because it was outdoors. Stuttgart is indoors, so I made this decision with my team months ago, before I even committed to Fed Cup. So it was a little strange, but I didn’t want to change my schedule.”

Svitolina started the season with a win at the Taiwan Open, starting a 13-match winning streak that took her to a career-best run and Top 10 debut at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, and clearly has an eye on another title in the Turkish city.

“Don’t put too much pressure on me!” she joked. “But my goal is definitely to leave Istanbul with the trophy, so I will do my best and leave everything on the court like always.”

Up next for the top seed is Jana Cepelova, who outlasted 16-year-old Dayana Yastremska. Yastremska won her maiden WTA main draw match this week in Istanbul, a city with emotional significance to Svitolina.

“Istanbul is very special to me because I won my first 10K Challenger here. This was the start of my career, and so hopefully that won’t be the last title for me.”

On the other half of the draw, Elise Mertens was coming off an impressive Fed Cup weekend of her own; after earning singles wins over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Elena Vesnina before pairing An-Sophie Mestach to defeat Vesnina and Daria Kasatkina in doubles, Mertens brought the momentum to Instanbul. The No.6 seed steadied the course against Cagla Buyukakcay, surviving the defending champion, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.

Buyukakcay hadn't won a WTA main draw match since last summer's US Open, but had high hopes of a second Istanbul crown after stunning No.2 seed Timea Babos on Thursday.