Thursday was quite a busy day in Cleveland, as the organizers of the WTA 250 Tennis in The Land were trying to make-up the gaps in schedule caused by rain conditions. Finally, all the scheduled matches got played and everything is set for today's semifinals. The line-up of final four still competing in Cleveland is quite surprising after a few notable upsets happened during quarterfinals.
Zhu eliminates Garcia
Lin Zhu has played an impressive stuff during the first part of hard courts season. The Chinese advanced into 4th round of Australian Open, won her maiden WTA title during the 250 event in Hua Hin and reached out the semis in Monterrey. The comeback into hard surface was not so successful for Zhu, who has won just 1 out of 5 matches, coming into Cleveland with an ongoing series of 4 loses in a row. The Chinese approached the quarterfinal's match against Caroline Garcia after two convincing victories against Anna Blinkova and Julia Grabher, giving away just 8 games during those two matches. Garcia entered the field in Cleveland with a goal to come back into winning habit after unsuccessful American swing, as the current world's number 7 did not win any single match during the big tournaments played in August. Despite this, the French has seemingly got back some confidence, as she has also advanced into quarters without losing a set so far this week. This has changed on Thursday, as Lin Zhu performed an upset on Garcia and moved past into semifinal after showing a great performance. The Chinese was surely not a pre-match favorite as being rated with an odd 2.79, but started from a front foot while moving into the lead after earning an early break. Zhu played really well throughout whole the match and after winning the opening set by 6-4, she was also a dominant force in second one to defeat the top seed with a score 6-4 6-1.
Alexandrova is a last standing seed
Ekaterina Alexandrova is the only one seeded player out of all the semifinalists. The world's number 22 denied the all-Chinese semifinal clash, as she defeated Xin Yu Wang by 5-7 6-0 7-5. It was quite an erratic match played by the Russian, who was a pre-match favorite there. Alexandrova could finish this match quite earlier, but did not manage to serve for the win while being 5-3 up in decisive set. It was a great week played by Xin Yu Wang, who reached out the quarterfinals despite climbing up into main draw out of qualifiers. The 22 years-old Chinese will capitalize on her good run in Cleveland by moving up into her career's highest 53th place in the next week's WTA ranking list.
Maria's sensational run of form
Tatjana Maria is a truly underrated sensation of this month's hard courts action. The German approached Cleveland after winning the WTA 125 challenger in Barranquilla and reaching out the semis in WTA 250 event in Warsaw. The 36 years-old German is still on fire, as she advanced into another semifinal in Cleveland after scoring her 7th win in a row and 10th win in all 11 matches played on hard surface during last month. Today's victory was not an obvious one, as Maria was playing against Leylah Fernandez, who was rated as quite a confident pre-match favorite. The Canadian has lost just two single games on the road to quarterfinals, as she defeated Linda Noskova by 6-0 6-2, and Clara Tauson has pulled out of the match against her in second round after losing the opening set to love.
Fernandez was the first one to gain a break advantage in Thursday's quarterfinal, but Maria turned this set over by breaking her opponent three times in a row. Second set was even more comprehensive performance from the experienced German, who moved up into lead from the start and kept her advantage till the end without facing any single breakpoint in this phase of a match. 6-3 6-2 is a final score. Maria is just one win away from achieving her career's highest rank, while being placed 47th in the live rankings, just one spot behind her peak 46th position. Moving into the final will assure her to move up into at least 41th place.
Lucky loser moves into semis
Sara Sorribes Tormo writes a great history in Cleveland this week, as the Spaniard advanced into semis despite losing in the final round of qualies a few days earlier. Sorribes Tormo earned her place in main draw as a lucky loser, and capitalized on this very well, reaching out the semifinals without losing a single set in any of her 3 main draw matches. Sorribes Tormo moved into semis after performing three consecutive upsets, as she was not a favorite in any of matches played this week. She was rated with an odd 2.09 against Katerina Siniakova, 2.83 against Veronika Kudermetova and 2.22 against Sloane Stephens. The Spaniard has eliminated the last standing American player in the draw, scoring a convincing 6-1 6-3 win. Stephens was not playing well this day, as she commited multiple unforced errors, which eased the task for Sorribes Tormo, who showed a really solid display of tennis.
Interestingly, it's the first tournament played on hard courts by the Spaniard this year. Sorribes Tormo has built her current 95th place in the rankings mainly due to 18 wins in 28 matches played on clay. The great result this week has not happened out of nowhere though, as Sorribes Tormo has proven some good skills to play on hard surface in previous seasons. This week's semifinal's run in Cleveland in the second one performed in this place, as Sorribes Tormo achieved the same stage here in the year 2021, which was a really successful one for her on hard courts, including two WTA 1000 quarterfinals in Miami and Montreal.