Chennai | Swan retires ill, leaving Linette to face Fruhvirtova in final

Britain’s Katie Swan was forced to retire from her semi-final match at the Chennai Open against Magda Linette on Saturday because of illness, while talented teenager Linda Fruhvirtova got the better of Nadia Podoroska in 3 sets to reach her maiden WTA final.

Since I was really young, we always had a lot of attention, even if it was the national U-10 tournament. I’m kind of used to people watching how I am going to do. However, in tennis, as soon as you lose two matches, people say, 'Oh, she’s going down' and then you win two matches and they go 'She’s a star'. You can’t really focus on what other people are saying. That’s not where my focus is going. Linda Fruhvirtova

Swan, the British No 6, came into Saturday on a 8-match winning streak after finishing her quarter-final encounter with Nao Hibino from Japan at 3am in the morning, a match in which she needed medical attention.

Later, she was trailing 3-0 to Linette, the No 3 seed from Poland, after just 16 minutes in their Last 4 meeting when she called for a medical time-out and, after being assessed by medics, Swan was not well enough to resume.

“I feel bad for Katie,” Linette said later. “She gave everything yesterday, and it looks like she has paid the price today.”

The Polish World No 67 will face 17-year old Fruhvirtova after the Czech came from behind to outlast the 2020 French Open semi-finalist Nadia Podoroska from Argentina, 5-7 6-2 6-4, in a thrilling battle.

Swan’s performance this week, though, has already ensured that she will move inside the world’s top 150 when the new WTA rankings are published on Monday.


Linda Fruhvirtova came from a set down to outlast Nadia Podoroska in the Chennai semi-finals

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Fruhvirtova played out of her skin to get the better of Podoroska in 2 hours and 53 minutes in a contest that stretched both to their limits and had the crowd cheering at the SDAT Tennis Stadium.

The teenager held her nerve in the slug-fest that saw the No 130 in the world turn a set-down deficit into an impressive win.

In the high-quality semi-final, Fruhvirtova’s talent was on full show in front of the enthusiastic crowd, producing a nerveless 3rd-set display as she battled from a break down to edge the contest, which will fetch her a spot in the top-100 for the first time.

“It was the best atmosphere I have ever played in,” said the 17-year-old. “Respect to her [Podoroska]. She played amazing.

“I never thought I would win a three-setter against her. She made me go over my limits.”

Despite opening back-to-back double-faults, Fruhvirtova’s power stood out, especially from the backhand wing from which she clobbered balls when allowed the time and space.

It forced Podoroska, who largely plays percentage tennis and pulls the trigger only when the kill is assured, to up her game.

The Argentine used the short angles well, and denied Fruhvirtova the chance to dictate from the middle of the court, making the young Czech hit on the run, which resulted in a sprinkling of errors.

Podoroska broke in the 5th and 7th games to have two good looks at the first set but, just like it had in her quarter-final against Eugenie Bouchard, a medical time-out by her opponent for exhaustion, which lasted 8 minutes, threw her off her rhythm, and the score was levelled at 5-5.

The Argentine recovered well to break and hold in quick succession to pocket the opener, and when the 25-year-old broke the Fruhvirtova serve again in the first game of the second, the writing appeared to be on the wall.

The tables turned, however, as Fruhvirtova broke 3 times to romp through the set in 39 minutes with the loss of just 2 games, with Podoroska, now fluffing her angles and, lacking power, finding herself lagging.

At 2-2 in the decider, the momentum shifted again when Podoroska broke for 3-2, and Fruhvirtova called for another time-out, this time to strap her left ankle, which took 7 minutes.

The Argentine did not allow this to affect her and, instead, shadow-practised on the side as the treatment was given.

She held after saving a break point for 4-2 when play resumed, only to wobble on her next delivery, allowing the Czech to level at 4-4.

On the Podoroska serve at 4-5, Fruhvirtova ran up 3 match points, which the Argentine erased, the last with a casual drop-shot, but she threw in the towel when she inopportunely double-faulted on the 4th.

“It was definitely one of the toughest matches I have played,” Fruhvirtova said afterwards. “She was simply spectacular, and I just wanted to hang in there to take the match deep.”

On her mindset when she was 2-4 down in the third set, she responded: “I had some negative thoughts myself but wanted to give it my best shot.

“She is a very good player and I wanted to make sure to stay in the game.”


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Fruhvirtova will face Linette in the final on Sunday, while her kid sister, Brenda, is on a 24-match win streak on the ITF Circuit.

Ever since winning Les Petits As in 2020, the elder of these two Fruhvirtova sisters, Linda, has had the label of a potential Grand Slam winner and top player thrust on her.

“Since I was really young, we always had a lot of attention, even if it was the national U-10 tournament,” Fruhvirtova told the WTA. “I’m kind of used to people watching how I am going to do.

“However, in tennis, as soon as you lose two matches, people say, ‘Oh, she’s going down’ and then you win two matches and they go ‘She’s a star.’ You can’t really focus on what other people are saying. That’s not where my focus is going.”

At 17 years, 140 days old, Fruhvirtova is the youngest finalist at a Tour-level event since Coco Gauff won the title at 2021 Parma at 17 years, 70 days old, and she is also the youngest Czech finalist since Nicole Vaidisova won the title at 2006 Strasbourg at 17 years, 34 days old.

Halfway across the world her sister, 15-year old Brenda, made a final in Santa Margherita di Pula, Italy, which puts her on course to make the cut for the Australian Open qualifying draw.

The kid sister is already ranked inside the Top 200 ahead of her 16th birthday, and both the Fruhvirtovas are among the leading candidates to be making the headlines sometime soon.

Like the Williams sisters, the Fruhvirtova sisters are very close, and Linda can’t wait to travel alongside her fast-rising sister to the same tournaments.

“It looks like we are going to go together to Australia, which is really exciting,” she said. “She has been playing unbelievably well.

“She’s a very tough opponent for any player and I think she will be fine even at the bigger tournaments.”

In the first match of the day in Chennai, top-seeded Gabriela Dabrowski & Luisa Stefani made the doubles final with a clinical 6-3 6-3 win over Peangtam Plipuech & Moyuka Uchijima in just 61 minutes.




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