Friday was a day of quarterfinals action in both the ongoing WTA 250 tournaments, which are being played in Palermo and Budapest. The Palermo Ladies Open delivered some good match-ups between great clay courts players, which had set up an interesting semifinals line-up. The Hungarian Grand Prix is not less interesting, as the event in Budapest brought some really surprising outcomes on the road to the semis.
Paolini delights the home crowd
Jasmine Paolini performed a big upset over the tournament's top seed Daria Kasatkina. The Italian was rated as an underdog ahead of the match against current world's number one with an odd 3.49. Kasatkina approached the QF clash after comfortable victory over the qualifier - Tatiana Prozorova, as she defeated her fellowcountry by 6-3 6-1. Paolini fought out her place in quarters after coming back from being a set down against Dayana Yastremska in second round. The Italian won 2-6 6-4 6-2 eventually to set up Thursday's hit clash against Kasatkina.
The home crowd's favorite clinched the erratic opening set, were the both the players won just 3 out of 10 service games. Paolini started the match brilliantly by moving up into 4-0 lead. Despite getting broken in 3 consecutive service games, the Italian kept her advantage to win the set by 6-3. Kasatkina needed to respond and continued her series of breaking Paolini's serve, making it twice after the start of second set. The Russian won it by 6-4 and forced a decider, where she also was a player to move up front, leading by 3-1. While having this match apparently under control, Kasatkina collapsed again. The momentum switched on favour of the Italian, who won 5 games in a row and made a big surprise, by moving into her first WTA semifinal of the year, winning with a score 6-4 4-6 6-3.
Sara Sorribes Tormo will be Paolini's opponent in semifinals. The Spaniard proves again to be a good clay courts specialist, as she moved into semis with just one set dropped on her way. Sorribes Tormo defeated Clara Burel in the quarters, winning in straight sets with a score 6-1 7-6(6).
Zheng wins in a top form
Qinwen Zheng is the highest seed of the semifinalists. The Chinese approached her second SF of the year after a confident straight sets win over Emma Navarro. This was another intriguing match-up to wait for, as the American is in a good form after advancing into final of WTA 125 Nordea Open last week and approaching the QFs in Palermo without losing a set in first two rounds. Zheng needed to fight for her place in QFs, as she needed 3 sets to overcome Diane Parry with a score 7-5 3-6 6-3, just after a storming start with a double bagel victory over Sara Errani in first round.
The second seed, who entered the field with a late wild card, performed brilliant performance against Navarro. Zheng won by 6-4 6-2 without dropping any single service game. It was an ultimate performance from the world's number 26, who scored 7 aces and hit 21 winners in compare to just 13 unforced errors commited during the 80 minutes of play.
13th in a row for Sherif
Zheng sets up a delightful match-up against Mayar Sherif. The Egyptian presents a stunning form on clay right now, being on a strike of 13 consecutive wins on her favorite surface. Sherif did not give too many chances for Camila Osorio in the quarters, winning over the Colombian by 6-4 6-1. The semis clash between Sherif and Zheng looks to be really exciting, as both player seem to be in a great form and it's expected to be a really high quality battle for the spot in a big final.
Timofeeva as a dark horse, cakewalk for Baindl in Budapest
Alongside the exciting tournament in Palermo, the Hungarian Grand Prix in Budapest has also approached the decisive stages. After some surprising outcomes in opening rounds, the quarterfinals delivered another upsets. Elina Avanesyan was the highest ranked player to approached the quarters, but she came up short to Nadia Podoroska on Friday. The Argentinian performed a dominant win with a score 6-1 6-3 and is the only one seeded player, who stayed in the contention till the semis.
Maria Timofeeva performed an upset over Kaja Juvan. The 19 years-old Russian was rated with an odd 3.42 ahead of the match against the Slovenian and prevailed with a score 3-6 6-3 6-2. It's second consecutive notable upset made by Timofeeva, as she was rated with even higher 3.69 odd before the match against Diana Shnaider in second round.
Claire Liu and Kateryna Baindl will play in second semifinal of Hungarian Grand Prix. Liu has beaten Anna Karolina Schmiedlova by 7-5 6-4 in quarters, while Baindl defeated Fanny Stollar by 7-6(5) 6-3. The Ukrainian approached the semis of the WTA level tournament by defeating three local wild card receivers, which from the highest ranked player was Natalia Szabanin, listed 345th in the WTA list.