SYDNEY: Eugenie Bouchard reached her first semifinal for 10 months as she battled intense heat to down higher-ranked Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova at the Sydney International on Wednesday.
The former Wimbledon finalist wore down the 27th-ranked Pavlyuchenkova 6-2, 6-3 in 76 minutes to set up a semifinal with Britain’s world No. 10 Johanna Konta.
It will be the 49th-ranked Canadian’s first WTA Tour semifinal since the Malaysian Open in March last year.
“It’s a good step in the right direction. I know there is a long way to go to achieve what I want,” Bouchard said.
“But to match up against solid players like I have this week, it’s a very tough tournament here. So I’m proud of that, for sure.”
Bouchard beat Konta in three sets in the second round at last year’s Wimbledon, but it was a battle.
Konta continued her impressive progress through the Sydney International draw with a 6-3, 7-5 win over rising young Russian Daria Kasatkina, who had eliminated German world No.1 Angelique Kerber in Tuesday’s second round.
Elsewhere on a stifling day where temperatures topped 42 degrees Celsius (108 Fahrenheit), former world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki went down in a punishing three hour, 20 minute battle with Barbora Strycova 7-5, 6-7 (6/8), 6-4.
Both players needed treatment for foot blisters on the broiling Ken Rosewall Arena hardcourt.
Strycova in the semis will face the 2013 winner Agnieszka Radwanska, who eliminated Chinese qualifier Duan Yingying 6-3, 6-2 in the evening match.
Duan was the first Chinese woman through to the quarterfinals in Sydney since Li Na in 2013.
Wozniacki was attempting to end a run of seven Sydney International visits without getting past the quarterfinals.
She battled back from 5-2 down in the second set and 5-0 in the tiebreaker but fell in the third set.
Austrian top seed Dominic Thiem had a three-set struggle with Portuguese qualifier Gastao Elias before clinching a quarterfinal spot at the Sydney International on Wednesday.
Thiem, the world No.8, had several chances to put away the plucky 81st-ranked Elias, only to be broken back before he eventually won 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 7-5 in a match that finished at midnight.
Thiem will now face Britain’s No.3 Daniel Evans in Thursday’s quarters.
Evans fought back from dropping the opening set to down Spanish eighth seed Marcel Granollers 1-6, 6-3, 6-3.
Gilles Muller earlier beat the heat to be one match away from a third straight semifinal appearance at the Sydney International, following a big-serving victory over Australian Matt Barton.
The sixth seed from Luxembourg prevailed over Barton 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 as temperatures nudged 42 Celsius (108 Fahrenheit) to reach the quarterfinals.
Muller, who lost to Grigor Dimitrov in last year’s semifinal, will next face Uruguayan second seed Pablo Cuevas, who overcame Frenchman Nicolas Mahut 6-4, 2-6, 6-2.
German fifth seed Philipp Kohlschreiber knocked out Australian Jordan Thompson 7-5, 6-4 and will face the two-time defending champion Viktor Troicki.
Third seed Troicki from Serbia won his 13th consecutive match at the Sydney international with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Italy’s Paolo Lorenzi.
Kohlschreiber needed just 84 minutes to cruise past Thompson, who failed to save a single break point.
Spanish fourth seed Pablo Carreno-Busta dropped the first set before overcoming German Mischa Zverev 3-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-3.
Carreno-Busta will face Andrey Kuznetsov in the last eight after the Russian beat Australian teenager Alex De Minaur on an injury retirement at the start of the second set after winning the opening set 6-2.