Nadia Podoroska won her second three-setter in less than 24 hours, this time packing off crowd favourite Eugenie Bouchard 1-6, 6-4, 6-2 to enter the last four of the WTA Chennai Open, at the SDAT Tennis Stadium here on Friday.
In a match that lasted nearly three hours, both players alternated between enthralling tennis and extended flat spots. Bouchard’s pedigree and big-match experience should have helped her edge the contest; she won more points (88 to 86), served and returned just as well as the Argentine and made seven fewer double-faults.
But Podoroska, whose ranking of No. 298 is deceptive at best — she was ranked as high as 36 in July last year — was steady when it mattered while Bouchard combusted at crucial junctures. Podoroska will next meet the 17-year-old Czech Linda Fruhvirtova, who ousted the tournament’s second seed Varvara Gracheva 6-4, 6-3.
Fruhvirtova, for whom it will be a maiden Tour-level semifinal, was later given the inaugural Margaret Amritraj Award for the most promising young player of the tournament.
Bouchard played pop-the-cork tennis at the beginning, winning 16 of the first 21 points to go 4-0 up, saving six break points to hold to 5-1 and then breaking again to take the set 6-1.
However, the bubbling promise soon faded, and Podoroska, just like against Tatjana Maria in the round-of-16, sprang to life in the second set, running up a 4-1 lead. She put enough air under the ball to take it away from her opponent’s strike zone, even as Bouchard was guilty of not picking off short balls that were dragged down by Podoroska’s spin.
A medical time-out for Bouchard (exhaustion), though, disrupted Podoroska’s rhythm. The Canadian got one break back and had three break opportunities to level at 5-5. But Podoroska wriggled out, as Bouchard missed all three, including the second on which she fluffed three attempts at a smash.
Podoroska went on a roll again in the third set, breaking twice for 3-0 lead, only for lightning and light rain to stop play for 35 minutes. She appeared shaky on resumption, but held on to make her first Tour-level semifinal since the 2020 French Open.
A visibly tired Bouchard later retired from her doubles quarterfinal, in the company of Yanina Wickmayer, down 3-6, 1-1 to Anna Blinkova and Natela Dzalamidze.
The results (quarterfinals): Singles: Nadia Podoroska (Arg) bt Eugenie Bouchard (Can) 1-6, 6-4, 6-2; Linda Fruhvirtova (Cze) bt Varvara Gracheva 6-4, 6-3; Magda Linette (Pol) bt Rebecca Marino (Can) 7-6(10), 6-3.