Swiss wild-card took out World No 2 Naomi Osaka on Thursday and followed her win with another upset of compatriot Belinda Bencic, the 10th seed at the Western & Southern Open on Friday, while her opponent in the semi-finals, 5th-seeded seed Karolina Pliskova, advanced after Spain’s Paula Badosa retired from their match due to a right shoulder injury.
I felt good since the beginning. I served well...the short balls, I went in. I was defending well. I was moving good. I think everything kind of worked out for me today. Jil Teichmann
Teichmann triumphed in the all-Swiss quarter-final got past Bencic, the Olympic gold medalist ,6-3 6-2, to claim a spot in the final 4 in Cincinnati.
“We hugged before the match; we hugged after the match,” Teichmann said about her compatriot and friend. “We know that once we step on court it’s business, it’s just another player I have to deal with, and she had the same mindset.
“At the beginning it’s obviously a bit special, but once we’re in it, we just look at the game, not looking at the opponent, or at least I do that way.”
The World No 76 Teichmann needed just 71 minutes to knock out her higher-ranked countrywoman, ending Bencic’s 9-match winning streak, which crested with a victory over Marketa Vondrousova in the Olympics final.
“I felt good since the beginning,” Teichmann told the media after her win. “I served well…the short balls, I went in. I was defending well. I was moving good. I think everything kind of worked out for me today.”
The victory continues a fine week for Teichmann, who earned her career-best win by way of ranking when she eliminated Osaka in the round of 16.
Twice a WTA singles champion on clay courts in 2019, at Prague and Palermo, Teichmann has now replicated the hard-court success she had earlier in 2021 before her season was derailed by left leg injuries.
In the first quarter of this year, she reached the quarter-finals at the Phillip Island Trophy, the semi-finals in Adelaide, and the semi-finals in Dubai in successive hard-court tournaments.
This week is the first time since Dubai that Teichmann has notched consecutive wins on tour.
Against Bencic, she was pristine and powerful on serve, turning around 0-40 in her very first service game to win 84 percent of her first-service points and saving all 5 of the break points she faced in the process.
It simply wasn’t Bencic’s day on Friday, the World No 1 coughing up 4 double-faults, while Teichmann was sensational, notably kicking it to another gear by breaking Bencic in the first game of the second set and cruising to victory from there.
Teichmann, who out-winnered Bencic by 23 to 9, is the lowest-ranked Western & Southern Open semi-finalist since World No 151 Sloane Stephens in 2017, and is bidding to become the 4th straight unseeded finalist at the event.
Next up for Teichmann is a semi-final clash with Pliskova in the first meeting between the two.
Pliskova, this year’s Wimbledon runner-up, moved into the semi-finals after Paula Badosa of Spain retired from their match due to a right shoulder injury while the Czech was leading 7-5, 2-0.
The former World No 1 won the Cincinnati title in 2016, and is now in the semi-finals of the Western & Southern Open for the 3rd time in her career.
In her previous match, Pliskova beat her 2021 nemesis, Jessica Pegula, for the first time in 5 tries, but she had to come back from dire deficits in each set to do so, from 1-4 down in the first set, and 0-5 down in the second set.
Pliskova faced a similar scenario against Badosa, the World No 29, as the Spaniard drew errors from the Czech to post a 4-0 advantage.
Badosa had 4 chances to break again and lead 5-0, but Pliskova gritted through that game to get on the scoreboard, and suddenly, the match turned.
Pliskova picked off 5 straight games from there to lead 5-4, and after Badosa stopped that run to hold for 5-5, the rising Spaniard called for the trainer to have her shoulder looked at.
After a medical time-out at 6-5, Badosa dropped her serve to love to cede the one-set lead to Pliskova, and could only make it through 2 games in the second set before she deemed herself unable to continue.
Earlier in the day, in a clash between the last two Grand Slam champions, top seed Ash Barty cruised into the semi-finals with a convincing win over another Czech, Barbora Krejcikova, 6-2 6-4, in an hour 11 minutes.
It took around the same time for Angelique Kerber to become Barty’s next opponent after the German advanced when a 3rd Czech, Petra Kvitova, the No 11 seed, retired with a stomach issue with the score standing at 6-4, 3-3, in the German’s favour.
Despite her illness, Kvitova fired 7 aces and hung tough in the first set before Kerber broke her to go up 5-4 and held serve to win the set, before the two battled to 3-all tie in the second.
In the doubles, the 2019 Australian Open champions, China’s Zhang Shuai & Samantha Stosur from Australia, came back from a set down and trailing 5-1 in the second to reach the final, winning two matches on Friday to face Canada’s Gaby Dabrowski Luisa Stefani of Brazil.
The pair were facing defeat to Russia’s Anna Blinkova & Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus, who had several chances to serve for the match, before an epic come-back to seal the second set 7-5 by winning 6 games in a row.
“That’s not the first time we’ve been 1-5 down and won the match,” Zhang told the media after the match. “We just tried to focus on ourselves and be patient.”
Zhang & Stosur then took the decisive 3rd and final set tiebreak, 10-5, to seal a place in the WTA 1000 final and end a hard day’s work.
The semi-final was their second match of the day after playing the quarter-final against 4th seeds Nicole Melichar & Demi Schuurs.
That match also went to 3 sets with Zhang, 32, and Stosur, 37, winning 6-3 3-6 [10-6].
They now face the 6th seeds Dabrowski & Stefani in the final on Saturday.
Zhang & Stosur won the women’s doubles at the 2019 Australian Open but have not won a doubles title since, either together or with other partners.
The Chinese singles No 2 has reached 4 doubles semi-finals this season, but Cincinnati marks the first final. Zhang has also lost her last three WTA 1000 doubles finals.
Stosur & Zhang reached the semi-finals of the 2018 US Open.