The quarter-final line-up was completed at the MUSC Health Women’s Open in Charleston on Thursday with some surprise appearances.
I’m getting used to the courts better every day. I like the green clay, and I like clay in general. I love to play here and be here, and I’ve played a lot of matches, points, sets and games. I’m enjoying my time here, and I’m hoping I enjoy it as much as I can. Ons Jabeur
While top seed Ons Jabeur dealt with American qualifier Alycia Parks efficiently, 6-4 6-0, Australia’s Astra Sharma upset Madison Brengle, the No 8 seed from the USA, 6-4 4-6 7-5, and Maria Camila Osorio Serrano continued her hot run with a tricky 2-6 7-6(2) 7-6 win over another American, Christina McHale.
15-Year old Linda Fruhvirtova rounded out a youthful octet by taking out local favourite Emma Navarro, 6-4 6-2, to earn her second career WTA-level win and a date with Sharma in the quarters.
The wild-carded Czech, who defeated the No 4 seed Alizé Cornet from France for her first WTA win in her opening match at Charleston, joins 18-year-old Clara Tauson and 19-year-old Osorio Serrano in the final eight.
“It’s an amazing feeling to be in the quarters for the first time,” she said. “It was a tough match for sure.”
Her next opponent Sharma rallied from 1-4 down in the final set to win 6 of the final 7 games and broke Brengle in the 7th and 11th games for the victory, despite the points won being even at 114 apiece.
Osorio Serrano won her 7th match in a row on Thursday, fresh off her maiden title at the Copa Colsanitas in Bogotá, the capital city in her home country of Colombia on Sunday afternoon.
A quick 3,178 kilometre trip from Bogotá to Charleston, where she received a special exemption into the main draw, saw her playing on the green clay of Daniel Island at just her 4th WTA-level event.
Afterwards she talked about her ability to wiggle out of tough situations in her matches.
“Two days ago, with [Magda] Linette, I was love-40 and 5-all in the third set, I don’t know what happened,” she said. “I don’t know what’s going on, I turn the matches, I don’t know how, it’s really crazy, because in the moment I don’t feel that much, I just feel let’s play this point and then the next one and the next one, but after that I get nervous.
“But I’m happy and proud that that’s how I feel on court right now, and that I’m doing really well, that I’m not thinking that much, because that’s actually what you need to do on court, not think the match and just play.”
Poland’s Linette was the No 2 seed, and Osorio Serrano will now face Denmark’s Tauson next, who is playing in just her 6th WTA event and defeated Ajla Tomljanovic on Wednesday.
“Well I feel a little bit tired of course, after seven matches, but I’m super happy and proud of what happened today, because I kept fighting all day, and I feel I’m doing better and better and feeling better on court and with more confidence,” she added. “That’s really good, I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, but I’m going to just keep doing what I’m doing, fighting and enjoying.”
After beating McHale, Osorio Serrano said on-court: “I’m super happy and proud about what I did today.
“I knew it was going to be a very hard match. I left my heart on the court. I congratulate [Christina] because she did a really good job today.”
Jabeur is the favourite for the title, and she advanced safely enough by winning the final 10 games of her match to eliminate Parks in just an hour.
The Tunisian is ranked at a career-high of No 27, and made the semi-finals at the Volvo Car Open last week.
Jabeur’s next opponent is Japan’s Nao Hibino, who is 26 and currently ranked No 88, although she has been ranked as high as No 56 and has 2 WTA Tour singles titles to her credit.
“I’m getting used to the courts better every day,” said Jabeur, who is seeking her first WTA Tour singles title. “I like the green clay, and I like clay in general.
“I love to play here and be here, and I’ve played a lot of matches, points, sets and games. I’m enjoying my time here, and I’m hoping I enjoy it as much as I can.”
Four Americans went down in the 2nd round on Thursday – McHale, Brengle, Navarro and Parks – leaving Shelby Rogers, another Charleston resident, the only one to reach the quarter-finals.
Navarro, a freshman at the University of Virginia, took an on-line accounting exam on Thursday morning before facing a sterner test from fellow teen Fruhvirtova later in the day.
Fruhvirtova is the youngest player in the WTA top 500, a clear talent at the tender age of 15, and it was a difficult end to a busy two weeks for the 19-year old Navarro.
She won her first 2 WTA Tour main-draw matches, including one at the Volvo Car Open last week; won 4 times for her college team at Virginia; and rose to the No 1 ranking in NCAA Division I women’s tennis.
She also won $10,850 in the 2 tournaments, although as an amateur player, she cannot keep the money.
“It’s tough coming off a loss to look at the successes of the past two weeks,” admitted Navarro, “It’s easy to have a bit of a clouded mind.
“But looking back at the last two weeks, it’s been great. I played college matches in Florida last weekend and North Carolina this week, and got my first WTA win last week.
“I didn’t play my best today, but it’s been a really great two weeks … I learned I can hang with the best players in the world, and that’s a pretty good feeling.”
Her opponent, Fruhvirtova, who has won 17 of her last 20 matches and is ranked 499, trailed 2-4 in the first set but stormed back to win the next 4 games, and then cruised in the second set.
Her win over the 404th-ranked American wild card took 90 minutes, as she overcame 11 double-faults by winning 75 percent of her first-serve points and broke Navarro’s serve 6 times in 9 opportunities, and out-pointed her opponent 69-52.
“It’s always tough losing a set after being up with a lead like 4-2,” Navarro said. “She played really well, she scrapped for some points where I was on top. I missed a few shots to close out points, which was tough.
“But credit to her, she played tough … She’s a great ball-striker, she’s crafty and quick. I have not played any 15-year-olds like that, actually.”
Fruhvirtova liked what she saw of Navarro’s game, as well.
“It was a tough match, and we had some great rallies,” she said. “She’s got great spin, and it was tough to get used to it.”
Fruhvirtova will face 25-year-old Sharma, who pulled off her upset of 8th-seeded Brengle.