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In the first quarter-final of the day, it was Ukrainian qualifier, Dayana Yastremska, who has barnstormed her way into a semi-final, with a stunning display of power hitting, that her Czech opponent, Linda Noskova, simply had no answers for. She becomes the first qualifier since 1978 to make the semis of an Australian Open.

Both players entered the match having spent a similar time on court, however, the Czech teenager was expected to be the fresher of the 2, having only played 3 games in her previous match, before Elina Svitolina retired. On the other hand, Yastremska played a 2 hour plus 4th round match, against former world number 1, Victoria Azarenka.

This always looked to be a match that would incorporate some free-wheeling hitting, and the first set started out in exactly that fashion. Noskova was the first player to take advantage of a loose service game from Yastremska, breaking to take a 2-1 lead.

But as is the case with Dayana’s matches this week, being a break up, doesn’t equate to safety, and a couple of big backhand winners in the following game, restored order in the set at 2 games apiece.

However, at 3-4 on Noskova’s serve, the set turned. Seemingly cruising at 30-15, and with a simple overhead in the middle of the court, the Czech slammed it the ball into Yastremska’s backhand side. Unfortunately for Noskova, the Ukrainian read it beautifully, and fired a rocket straight passed her at the net. From there, a forehand winner, and a forced error, handed Dayana another break of serve, giving her the chance to serve out the set.

Finding herself down break point, Yastreska did what she does best….hit herself out of trouble. A couple of big forehands, and the opening set was in her pocket in just 36 minutes.

Yastremska was clearly the dominant player off the ground, hitting 8 winners to 1 in the set, including 6 off the forehand wing.

The second set was pretty much a carbon copy of the first, but without an initial break from Noskova.

When playing against the Ukrainian world number 93, there’s not a lot of rhythm to be had. Yastremska can take a seemingly innocuous rally ball, and pull the trigger on it, resulting in a winner, a forced error, or a complete miss. There were 116 points played in this match, and only 4 went longer than 9 shots. Yastremska just didn’t allow Noskova to get her eye in, and took all time away from the Czech.

Noskova at times looked like a spectator, simply waiting for Dayana to end the point in whichever manner she chose.

The score-line will say there was only one break of serve difference in both sets, but watching the match told a different story. As did the stats.

Yastremska hit 19 winners for the match (14 groundstrokes), to just 6 for Noskova (2 groundstrokes). The unforced errors were 23 to 21. It was all on Dayana’s racket, and as has been the case for this week, her racket was just too good. She didn’t even need to rely on her net prowess, which was a big factor in her round 4 win. In fact, she only one 1 point at the net today, doing the vast majority of her work from the back of the court.

The ‘see ball, hit ball’ approach has definitely paid dividends, and Dayana admitted that tactics weren’t so much of an issue today. It was all about staying upbeat and confident.

“I will say I didn't have, like, a huge tactic for today. The most important thing was for me is to keep the energy up, because I had, like, a lot of matches here already and played a lot of sets. You know, you feel the tiredness, and it's normal. The main goal was just to keep the energy up and stay positive, even if I was doing sometimes stupid mistakes. I try not to get angry on myself, because I understood why it's happening.”

After the match, Noskova made mention of the fact she may not have benefitted much by having the early retirement in her previous match…

“I kind of felt like I wasn't, like, 100% on court today, maybe because of the fact I didn't really, you know, play the previous match, so I had, like, two days off, let's say. I kind of didn't manage to put myself and put my head into the match from the beginning. So she was just in lead and in control the whole time.

That was not what I wanted, but I kind of couldn't do much with it…..I didn't have many winners or aces, so I didn't really help myself a lot.”

For Yastremska, she’s aware of the history surrounding her run to the final four.

“As I said on court, it's nice to make a history. It's something new for me and for my generation (smiling) because the last time it happened it was a long time ago. I wasn't born yet. It's nice. I'm really happy to be in my first semifinals. I was a little bit nervous, but at the same time tired.”

While both players are still young, the 4 year experience difference was clear for all to see today, and the dream of emulating Emma Raducanu at the 2021 US Open, by winning a major from qualifying, is still alive and well.

Dayana Yastremska’s next opponent will be the winner of tonight’s match, between Anna Kalinskaya, and Qinwen Zheng.


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