Raducanu reaches first semifinal of 2022 in Seoul; to face Ostapenko next

No.6 seed Emma Raducanu raced into the last four of the Hana Bank Korea Open with a 6-2, 6-2 defeat of No.3 seed Magda Linette in 77 minutes. She will bid for a place in the final against No.1 seed Jelena Ostapenko, who overpowered 17-year-old lucky loser Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva 6-2, 6-1 in 74 minutes.

The result marks the second tour-level semifinal of Raducanu’s career, and first since winning the 2021 US Open as a qualifier. The 19-year-old has yet to drop a set this week in Seoul, and will next face either No.1 seed Jelena Ostapenko or 17-year-old lucky loser Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva.

Throughout the match, Raducanu struck her groundstrokes with authority and was imperious on serve, dropping just one point behind her first delivery. This came in particularly handy as she avoided a potential turning point in the second game of the second set.

After a one-sided first set, Linette had won two fabulous all-court exchanges to hold triple break point for a 2-0 lead. But the Briton responded with five straight points, including four solid one-two punches, to wriggle out of trouble, and then pulled off a remarkable chipped return winner to break Linette in the next game.

Linette, who was coming off a run to the Chennai final last week and who had needed 2 hours and 46 minutes to defeat Kristina Mladenovic in the previous round, received treatment on her right thigh after the third game of the second set. With her movement visibly hampered, the Pole lost 14 of the next 17 points on resumption. Though Linette gathered herself for one last service hold, Raducanu was able to close out the match with her third love hold of the day.

“I think Magda was feeling it a bit physically,” Raducanu said afterwards. “She’s had a lot of matches and good wins because she’s a really tough player, and sometimes it catches up with the body.

“I think it’s pretty cool to make my first semifinal and build my way on tour the right way, to go through the stages.”

Ostapenko had needed tight three-setters to get past wild card Jeong Boyoung and No.141-ranked Anastasia Gasanova in her first two rounds this week. But the Latvian, who had saved a match point against Gasanova, turned in her cleanest performance so far against Jimenez Kasintseva.

Get to know Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva, Andorra’s teenage trailblazer

No.186-ranked Jimenez Kasintseva was making her tour-level quarterfinal debut, and a hefty strike with her left-handed forehand took the Andorran to an early 2-0 lead. But Ostapenko reigned in her power, kept her double fault tally to five, and took control of the match with a run of eight straight games.

Ostapenko advances to her fifth semifinal of the year, and first since reaching the Eastbourne final in June.

Highlights: Ostapenko d. Jimenez Kasintseva | Alexandrova d. Sun | Maria d. Zhu

The bottom-half semifinal in Seoul will pit No.2 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova against No.7 seed Tatjana Maria. Alexandrova saved one set point in the second-set tiebreak to defeat No.340-ranked Swiss qualifier Lulu Sun 7-5, 7-6(6) and move into her fourth semifinal of 2022.

Maria needed only 59 minutes to rout No.4 seed Zhu Lin 6-1, 6-1, outfoxing the defending champion with her variety of spins and superb touch at net. The German mother-of-two advances to her third semifinal of the season, following Bogota and Wimbledon.

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