Alison Riske advanced to the semi-finals of the Nottingham Open after winning 4-6 6-2 6-1 win against Harriet Dart, as the duo came face-to-face for the first time.
Sixth-seed Riske progressed to the quarters following straight-set wins over Daria Snigur and Caroline Garcia respectively.
Dart’s path to the last eight was arguably even more impressive after overcoming former champion Donna Vekic in straight sets ahead of a superb display against world no.26 Camila Giorgi. She saved three match points to get past the Italian.
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But Riske had the credentials to provide formidable opposition to the 25-year-old, having reached the 2016 final in this event and also reaching the last eight of Wimbledon three years later.
However, Dart was seemingly unfazed by her opponent’s credentials with a fine start taking the first game with some confident tennis moving 2-1 up in the first set.
A double fault by Dart gave Riske a break point, which she capitalised through a wayward forehand from the Brit to move 3-2 ahead. Riske held her serve to take a 4-2 lead, but Dart fought back to win the next four games. She broke Riske’s serve twice in the process and win the first set 6-4 in 61 minutes.
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The first three games all saw the service broken for Riske to lead 2-1. Service was held in the next three games for Riske to move 4-2 in front, and thanks to a succession of forehand errors by Dart on her serve, the American was able to move 5-2 ahead.
Riske served out to take the second set to win 6-2 in just 45 minutes, levelling the match at one set all.
In the third game of the final set, Riske broke Dart’s serve after the latter’s unforced forehand error to take a 2-1 lead.
Riske held serve and broke Dart’s serve again to take a 4-1 lead to close in on securing a place in the semi-finals.
She held service to 15 to leave her within one game of victory, as Dart seemingly had run out of confidence and energy.
Riske advanced on her fourth match point to take the set 6-1 in only 37 minutes, and the match by two sets to one.
“I’m really excited to be in the semi-final and to play in another match,” she said in her on-court post-match interview.
“Thank you to everyone that came out, it was awesome to play in front of you and I’m so grateful for your support.
“I was so pre-occupied thinking about what Harriet was going to do to me, so that [the windy conditions] was the least of my concerns. It was challenging at times, but my biggest challenge today was Harriet herself.
“Harriet is awesome on all services and has a great game for grass. She changed direction very well, and moves well. It was a battle and I’m fortunate to be the one victorious today.
“I still have two matches to go and my biggest concern is getting ready for the next one and obviously that’s [winning the tournament] is the ultimate goal, but I can’t get ahead of myself.”
Riske will face Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland in the semi-finals on Saturday, after beating Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia 6-2 7-6(6).
Meanwhile Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia beat Maria Sakkari of Greece, 6-4 4-6 6-3.
She will face Tereza Martincova of Czech Republic following her 6-3 6-2 victory over Zhang Shuai of China.
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