Chennai Open: Nadia survives Genie test, makes it to semis

The script, though, flipped post that more or less one-sided opener.

Published: 17th September 2022 07:55 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th September 2022 07:55 AM   |  A+A-

Nadia Podoroska

Argentina's Nadia Podoroska.(Photo | PTI)

Express News Service

CHENNAI: For a player who's still working her way back to full fitness after taking time out to let her shoulder heal, Eugenie Bouchard has shown no signs of ring rust in the first set of all three matches. In the first match against Joanne Zuger on Monday, she had opened a 4-1 lead before eventually taking the set via a tie-break. In the second match against Karman Kaur Thandi, she again took a big lead. Before the Indian got a grip, the scoreboard said 5-2 in the Canadian's favour. It was a similar script on Friday as well. Before Nadia Podoroska got moving in their quarterfinal, the 28-year-old had opened a big 4-1 lead, before going on to take the first set after a long hold followed by another break of serve.  

The script, though, flipped post that more or less one-sided opener. Podoroska refocused, recalibrated and made the majority of the running. In the end, she deserved the 1-6, 6-4, 6-2 scoreline.While the 28-year-old Bouchard had come into the quarterfinal on the back of a one-day rest, the quirk of the draw meant the Argentine was playing less than 24 hours after surviving a marathon three-setter against Tatjana Maria. It kind of showed in the opening exchanges. Bouchard looked fresher and she was the faster of the two. After the match, she conceded that she was perhaps a bit tired. "I made too many mistakes in the first set as I was a little bit nervous and maybe a bit tired."

Bouchard was also in her element, with winners flowing off both wings. She won 16 of the first 21 points on offer, including 10 in a row. At 4-1 in the first set and the crowd firmly in the Canadian's corner, one sensed that the match was firmly within her grasp. That was when the first cracks peaked through. Bouchard ultimately won the game but it stretched on for more than 15 minutes, saving six break points in the process. The effort she put in visibly took something from her.

In the interim, some storm crowds were gathering after a typically hot day. On the court, Bouchard had gone from smooth to wobbly. The unforced errors count increased while Podoroska, who only recently came back on tour after a 10-month injury layoff, came up with a new strategy: keep the ball in play and ask the Canadian to hit winners. It's fair to say she struggled. She threw the racquet twice after shanks. In another instance, she also whacked the ball on the advertising hoarding after going down two breaks of serve.  

That she was feeling the conditions — she took a medical timeout when trailing 1-4 in the second set — also didn't help. A second set loss was already in the post.  

Trailing 0-3 in the third set, the umpire called for the match to be suspended because of lightning. When play resumed some 40 minutes later, the Argentine, whose best result is a run to the semifinals at Roland Garros in 2020, closed it out with admirable ease. "(on what changed in the second set) I just tried to put the ball in her court to get some confidence," the 25-year-old said. Once she got that confidence going, she was a different player for the majority of the third set. She stamped her authority and sailed into the semifinal. In the second quarterfinal on Friday, young Czech Linda Fruhvirtova, who has been tipped to rise to the top, beat second seed Varvara Gracheva 6-4, 6-3.

Result (quarterfinal): Nadia Podoroska bt Eugenie Bouchard 1-6, 6-4, 6-2; Linda Fruhvirtova bt Varvara Gracheva 6-4, 6-3.

Semifinal: Fruhvirtova v. Podoroska


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