Ajla Tomljanovic has succumbed to the battling talent of Yulia Putintseva as she agonisingly missed out on making her first WTA semi-final for two-and-a-half years at the Istanbul Cup.
The Australian No.1 Tomljanovic took the first set in their compelling quarter-final on Friday but saw her lead gradually whittled away by the tigerish Kazakh, who prevailed 5-7 6-2 6-4 after two hours 51 minutes of fierce slog on the Turkish red clay.
It was a grievous disappointment for Tomljanovic, who had looked to be on her way to her first semi-final since the Zhengzhou Open in China in September 2019.
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Competing in her first last-eight match since losing to compatriot Ash Barty at Wimbledon last July, Tomljanovic, the sixth seed in Istanbul, took advantage of Putintseva’s absent-minded opening to race into a 4-1 lead.
With her drop shots not hitting their marks and struggling on serve, Putinteseva made 16 unforced errors in the opening set as Tomljanovic took control.
But famed as a fighter, world No.51 Putintseva began to find her rhythm in the second stanza and, despite needing a medical timeout to have a blister treated, she started to get under Tomljanovic’s skin once the drop shots began to prove more effective.
Cutting out the errors too, she went on to beat the Australian for the fourth time in five meetings, but it proved hard work with Tomljanovic battling for every point in a high-quality deciding set.
Putintseva will next face Russian Anastasia Potapova, who beat Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-2 6-2.
Romania’s reigning champ Sorana Cirstea also advanced to the semi-finals with a 7-5 6-1 win over Austria’s Julia Grabher and will meet Russia’s third seed Veronika Kudermetova, winner over Hungary’s Anna Bondar 7-6 (11-9) 7-6 (7-3).