Two seeds were toppled at the TEB BNP Paribas Tennis Championship Istanbul on Wednesday, with Marta Kostyuk from Ukraine taking out Russia’s Daria Kasatkina and Ana Konjuh from Croatia getting past China’s Qiang Wang, both in straight sets.
Still only 18-years-old, Kostyuk has already made the third round of both the Australian Open and the US Open in her young career, and seems destined for greater things.
On the day, she proved the better of Kasatkina, the No 4 seed, and pulled off the shot of the week, sliding to reach a drop-shot and somehow squeezing the ball back over the net for a winner in what looked an impossible get.
It helped the Ukrainian to score a tight win in an hour 34 minutes over the more experienced World No 37, 6-3 7-5.
Meanwhile Konjuh received a wild card into the main draw and had taken down clay court specialist Sara Errani in her opening match, which she followed up with an equally impressive 6-1 6-4 win over Wang, the 8th seed.
A successful junior player, Konjuh won both the singles and doubles junior events at the Australian Open in January 2013 and, as a result, moved up to No 1 in the ITF junior world rankings, before winning the girls’ singles event at the 2013 US Open.
Injuries derailed her and she endured four surgeries on her painful elbow, which sidelined her for most of the past three years, the most recent an ulnar ligament reconstruction, from which only 80 per cent of athletes have made successful returns from it, she was told.
“It’s a huge surgery for a tennis player – mainly it’s for baseball players,” said Konjuh. “The doctor said it was my last option.
“I decided in five minutes. I said, let’s do it, let’s go for it. He had a time-slot the next day for the surgery, which lasted two-and-a-half hours.”
It was the culmination of a decade of pain that lurked in the shadows of Konjuh’s prodigious success and, now at 23, she is ready to reach her full potential.
Konjuh takes on Kostyuk in the quarter-finals on Thursday.
Elsewhere, Romania’s Sorana Cirstea reached the last 8 with a 7-6(6) 6-4 win over Russia’s Anastasia Potapova, while Katerina Siniakova needed 3 sets to get past France’s Kristina Mladenovic, 6-4 3-6 6-4.
Cirstea, who at the age of 31 is ranked No 67, prevailed in an hour and 45 minutes, taking advantage of Potapova’s 14 double-faults to advance.
20-year old Potapova, the World No 76, had defeated the Romanian in their first meeting but could not find her way past her on this occasion.
Cristea plays the winner between Fiona Ferro of France and Russian veteran Vera Zvonareva, who play on Thursday.
Early in the day, Estonian Kaia Kanepi was a 6-4 6-4 winner over Zarina Diyas from Kazakhstan to complete the first round of matches that was delayed by heavy rain.
Kanepi fired 2 aces and offered up just 2 double-faults, while Diyas had no aces and made 4 double-faults in the 1 hour 19 minute encounter.
The two had met on the court four times before, each winning twice, and Kanepi now holds the edge, ready to play 3rd-seeded Veronika Kudermetova from Russia next for a place in the quarter-finals of the WTA250 event.