Thursday's on-court action in the WTA 250 Hamburg European Open has emerged the line-up of tomorrow's semifinals. All of the four semifinalists delivered quite a surprise, as not reaching out this stage of the WTA level tournament before in the 2023. Both the semis will be quite different stories. One of them will be a clash between two youngsters, who achieved the advance into this stage of big tournament for the first time in their careers. The second one is a battle between two experienced players, who remind the wider audience about themselves by a successful run in Hamburg so far.
Fairytale debut on the big stage
Noma Noha Akugue did not just advance into her first career's WTA semifinal, but she did so in her first ever main draw appearance in the world level tournament. The 19 years-old German did not achieve that by accident, as she needed to overcome the tough challenge in form of playing against Martina Trevisan in the quarters. The Italian was a confident pre-match favorite, as Noha Akugue was rated with an odd 3.95 before the match. It was a really intense battle from both sides from the start. Trevisan started well as expected, quickly building up the gap and moving into 3-0 lead with double break advantage. The young German came back from being this far down and fought till the end of a set, but Trevisan regained her advantage and clinched it by 7-5 after converting 4th of created setpoints.
Trevisan started second set simillarly well and was in the driver's seat for the relatively easy straight sets win. This not happened though, as the momentum switched for the favour of Noha Akugue, who broke her more experienced opponent 3 times in the following 4 service games and surprisingly moved the match into whole distance. The youngster did not stop, as she started third set from a front foot, moving up into 3-1 lead. This time, it was Trevisan who did not give up, as the Italian came back level and even moved up into the lead with a chance to serve for this match in 10th game. This was not the end though, as Noha Akugue performed the next and decisive plot twist, winning 3 games in a row with a style and came back from being 4-5* down to win the whole thing by 5-7 6-5 7-5 after winning 12 out of last 16 points.
It's a big success for the young German, who showed up well by performing an impressive resillience against the more experienced players. The current world's number 207 defended two matchpoints against Storm Hunter in previous round and reverted the match despite being 0-6 3-5 down. Today's match was also the one, where Martina Trevisan was definitely closer to make the job done earlier, but Noha Akugue prevailed to come back from being a set down and denied her opponent to serve for the match in decisive moments of third set.
Shnaider defeats Pera again
Diana Shnaider and Bernarda Pera met each other last week during the opening round of the WTA 250 Hungarian Grand Prix. This match, same as the whole campaign in Budapest, meant a lot for Pera who was a reigning champion in Budapest and had to defend all the points gained there last year. This not happened though, as Shnaider defeated her in straight set, which resulted in a significant drop from the areas of top 30 down to 56th place in the rankings. The American wanted to get a revenge in today's quarterfinal in Hamburg and was rated as a slight pre-match favorite with an odd 1.64. The match got settled in three sets after first one got dominated by Shnaider with a score 6-1 and the second one by Pera, who came back into the match by winning 6-2. Decider was more even battle with some intense games and breakpoints from both sides, but got decided in last two games where Shnaider gained a crucial break for the score 5-4 and saved two breakpoints while serving for the match in 10th game. The semis clash against Noma Noha Akugue will be a special day for both players, as it's also the first semifinal appearance for Diana Shnaider on the WTA level.
Rus capitalizes career's best form
Arantxa Rus does not stop, as the Dutch continues her super successful 2023 season with another great achievement. The 32 years-old has won 5 lower level events so far this season (four ITFs and one WTA 125 challenger), but proved to be prepared to compete same well on the WTA level. Rus advanced into her first WTA 250 semifinal of the season after defeating the local crowd's favorite Eva Lys in a dominant style. The Dutch won by 6-2 6-2 after a comprehensive performance and is the last standing seeded player in the draw after quarterfinals. The run in Hamburg assures her also to improve the career's highest rank in the next WTA rankings. Rus will be ranked higher than previous peak achieved in 2012, which was the 60th place. In case of the possible advance into final, the Dutch can break through the top 50 for the first time in career, so it's all to play for her this weekend.
Flawless comeback by Saville
Daria Saville lives a great week in Hamburg, as she achieved her first semifinal after coming back from the long injury break just 5 weeks ago. The Australian started her campaign in Germany from the qualies and lost just one set in 5 matches played, during the final round of qualies against the Austrian, Sinja Kraus. Saville stormed through the main draw into the semis without losing a single set, defeating Jasmine Paolini and two German players - Tamara Korpatsch and Jule Niemeier. While playing two tiebreaks against both Paolini and Korpatsch, the quarterfinal match against Niemeier was the most comfortable one on paper for the Australian, who won easily by 6-3 6-2. Saville was putting an immense pressure on Niemeier, which was lethal during the service games of the German, who managed to win just 1 out of 8 own games throughout whole the match.