Photo : Martin Sidorjak
Bianca Andreescu has wasted no time in putting the disappointment of the Australian Open behind her as she is into her first semifinal of 2023 after defeating Marta Kostyuk on Friday at the Thailand Open.
What appeared to be a straight-forward victory for the top seeded-Canadian turned into a slugfest as Kostyuk refused to go away after a strong start from the Canadian. But Andreescu managed to wrestle control of the match back late in the second set to escape with a 6-0, 7-6(3) win.
She is through to her first semifinal since June of 2022, when she reached the title match in Bad Homburg on grass. By reaching the final four, Andreescu is expected to jump back into the Top 40 in the WTA rankings and will leapfrog Leylah Annie Fernandez to become the highest-ranked Canadian singles player on the WTA Tour.
“I’m hoping to win the tournament,” said Andreescu in her post-match interview. “I really believe in myself.”
The Canadian was the stronger of the two, hitting 19 winners to her opponent’s 15 and committing 20 unforced errors, seven fewer than Kostyuk. She also applied constant pressure on the Ukrainian’s serve, creating 11 break points in the match and converting five, while facing just three on her own serve.
Coming into the match having not dropped a set in her first two matches, Andreescu looked primed to cruise into the final four by breaking serve right away and winning the first eight games of the match. She found herself ahead 6-0, 5-1 in under an hour.
That’s when the wheels started to fall off. Andreescu served for the match for the first time at 5-2 but was broken. In the following game, the Canadian went up love-40 on the Kostyuk serve but failed to convert any of the three match points.
When she tried to serve out the match again at 5-4, Andreescu was broken to love to level the set, having lost nine consecutive points since holding triple match point.
Despite her lead evaporating, the top seed never showed any outward signs of frustration.
In the tiebreak, Andreescu overcame an early 0-2 deficit before grabbing the lead for good. The pair were still on serve when Kostyuk was serving at 4-3, but a huge forehand from the Canadian gave her what proved to be the decisive minibreak. Consecutive shots into the net from the Ukrainian sent Andreescu into the semifinals without the need for a third set.
Andreescu will meet another Ukrainian, Lesia Tsurenko, for a spot in Sunday’s final. It will be a first meeting between the Canadian and the world No. 136.