Birmingham | Potapova upsets Krejcikova, as Tomljanovic finds form

The Rothesay Classic, the WTA 250 in Birmingham, successfully reached the semi-final stage on time, with Anastasia Potapova, Ajla Tomljanovic, Elisabetta Cocciaretto and Yulia Putintseva in the line-up after some upsets of the form book.

I’m a little bit surprised, to be honest, because I don’t know what happened in that first set. I felt really outplayed. I was slow. I definitely thought this can’t go any worse for me. [I thought] let’s try to get more than one game on the board. And I felt, like, once I got that second game in the second set, I relaxed a bit, and then I, kind of, zoned, for sure. Ajla Tomljanovic

Russia’s Potapova ousted Barbora Krejcikova, the 2nd seed and favourite for the title following the early departure of defending champion and top seed Jelena Ostapenko, after the Latvian fell to Cocciaretto in the 1st-round on Monday.

Potapova, the No 7 seed, reached the Last 4 at the Edgbaston Priory Club for a second year in a row after upsetting Krejcikova, 6-1 6-4, in their 3rd meeting, and improved her record over the Czech to 2-1 overall, having previously defeated her on clay in the 2022 Hamburg quarter-finals.

Krejcikova, who is one of 3 unseeded champions to win the Roland Garros title in the Open Era, was left unable to extricate herself from an unforgiving 5-0 deficit, winning only 17% on her first serve in the opening 20 minutes of the match.

In the second set, the former World No 2 successfully held 3 consecutive service games, but Potapova’s variety of unplayable shots soon led to the Czech yielding at 4-3.

Potapova continued to grow in strength, making marked improvements on the delivery of her second serve as she blitzed into the semi-finals here for a second time.


Ajla Tomljanovic found her grass court form to come from a set down to beat Leylah Fernandez, making the semi-finals for the first time at the Edgbaston Priory Club on Friday

© Cameron Smith/Getty Images for LTA

Her opponent in the Last 4 is Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic, who looked an unlikely winner after the 2021 US Open runner-up, Leylah Fernandez, romped through the opening set, but the 31-year old turned things around to win 1-6 6-3 6-2 over the 6th seed from Canada.

Fernandez simply cruised through the opening set, winning 5 consecutive games and then carrying her momentum into the second, poised to gallop towards a straight-sets finish, but Tomljanovic leveraged her experience to produce the grass court flair she has so often showcased at Wimbledon, retrieving the break against her before earning a second to call for a decider.

As the Australian cast a nervous glance at the darkening sky, she could see rain clouds forming and was determined to keep her foot on the accelerator, which she did with distinction, earning a cushioning match-winning double break to book her first-ever quarter-final on the grass.

“I looked around, and it felt really dark,” she said afterwards. “I always check this on my phone whenever I come to new place, to look at the sunrise or sunset, and I remember it [said it would] be like 9.30pm.

“But then I was trying to do the math as to [when we started]… and I did not want to ask the umpire what time it was, because I felt, like, that was just really going to take all the attention from the game.

“But I definitely thought there could be a chance that, maybe, we didn’t finish if it goes to a breaker, so I’m just glad I can sleep soundly tonight.”

Playing in just her 4th event since undergoing surgery to remove uterine tumours in February, the signs of Tomljanovic’s increasing match fitness were clearly evident.

Blasted off the court by Fernandez early on, she had found her range in the second set and, by the third, was mixing deft touch with superb serving and groundstrokes from the baseline.

“I’m a little bit surprised, to be honest, because I don’t know what happened in that first set,” she added. “I felt really outplayed. I was slow. I definitely thought this can’t go any worse for me.

“[I thought] let’s try to get more than one game on the board. And I felt, like, once I got that second game in the second set, I relaxed a bit, and then I, kind of, zoned, for sure.”

Tomljanovic, who missed Wimbledon last year due to a knee injury but had reached the Last 8 in the two previous editions, now plays Potapova for a spot in the Birmingham final


Elisabetta Cocciaretto needed 3 sets to get past Diana Shnaider on Friday in Birmingham

© Cameron Smith/Getty Images for LTA

Italy’s Cocciaretto continued her stellar run on the grass after her 5-7 6-4 6-2 victory over 20-year-old Diana Shnaider from Russia, securing the first of 4 semi-final spots available earlier on Friday.

Elsewhere, Putintseva, a Russia-born Kazakh, stemmed the flow of lucky loser Caroline Dolehide from the USA, with a grinding 6-3 6(2) 6-1 win, catapulting the World No 41 into the semi-finals.

In the doubles, Britain’s Olivia Nicholls & Tereza Mihalikova from Slovakia bowed out 3-6 6-3 6-1 to American Asia Muhammed & Aldila Sutjiadi from Indonesia, who together own a combined 14 doubles titles.

Muhammed & Sutjiadi will now play Belgian Elise Mertens & Su-Wei Hsieh from Taipei, the top seeds, for a place in the final.




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