Unseeded Lesia Tsurenko is back into the Brisbane International semi-finals, six years after surprising all before her with a run to the last four as a lucky loser.
The world No.27 stormed back from a 3-5 deficit and saved two set points in the opening set to bring down Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit 7-5 6-3 on Thursday night.
The reward for her victory over the 20th-ranked Kontaveit is a career-high ranking of at least No.24 for reaching the semi-finals.
And it sets a showdown with US Open champion Naomi Osaka, an earlier winner over No.8 seed Anastasija Sevastova.
“I really like this tournament. I really love the people here and I really love Australia so for me it’s always important to do well here,” Tsurenko said.
“I was actually really excited to start the year and play some matches, kind of just to try everything that I was working on.”
For the first time since 2013, she’s into the final four here at #BrisbaneTennis, battling past Kontaveit 7-5 6-3.
She’ll face No.2 seed Osaka there pic.twitter.com/kXilCyLpVh
— #BrisbaneTennis (@BrisbaneTennis) January 3, 2019
A maiden Grand Slam final at last year’s US Open gave the 29-year-old the belief she could take her game to the next level.
“Some of the wins last year gave me the confidence that I can beat top players and now I feel more and more confident and for sure I’ll keep this mindset for the Australian Open,” she said.
Riding the momentum of her first-set comeback, Tsurenko never looked back when she broke her 23-year-old opponent in the opening game of the second set.
Frustrated at her inability to put away the first set, Kontaveit’s error count began to mount and the fleet-footed Tsurenko never gave an inch, breaking on one final backhand error from the Estonian to seal the result.