Qualifier Yastremska beats Noskova to book Melbourne semi-final spot

MELBOURNE: Dayana Yastremska beat Czech Linda Noskova 6-3 6-4 on Wednesday to book a semi-final spot at the Australian Open, becoming the first women’s qualifier to reach the last four in Melbourne since the 1978 tournament.

Battling in 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) heat, the Ukrainian’s powerful forehand eventually overcame the 19-year-old Czech, who was the youngest player left in the draw. Yastremska, 23, follows in the footsteps of Christine Dorey, the last qualifier to reach the Melbourne Park semis 45 years ago.

“I think it’s nice to make history because at that time I wasn’t born,” Yastremska said on court after the match.

“It’s next generation making history and I’m so happy, and tired.”

The players traded breaks early in the first set, but it was Yastremska who took the lead in the eighth game when Noskova netted a backhand.

Despite failing to get nearly half her first serves in, the Ukrainian kept the pressure on with a string of forehand winners throughout the match.

Noskova failed to capitalise on a break point when she was down 5-3 and Yastremska wrapped up the first set in 36 minutes with another well-targeted forehand.

Both players went off court after the first set, escaping the heat, and Noskova had a long chat with her coach on her return.

The players were on level pegging throughout the second set until the seventh game when Yastremska locked it up on her third break point with a backhand winner that left Noskova stranded on the far side of the court.

She closed out the match on serve when Noskova’s backhand return hit the net, ending the Czech’s bid for her first tour singles title and becoming the first qualifier to reach this stage of a Grand Slam since Emma Raducanu won the US Open in 2021.

“I don’t really feel like I’m playing good, I just try to play like I can because I’m really tired,” Yastremska said.

“I’m trying to take the maximum that I can from myself and the rest is just fight.”

The world number 93, who has already beaten two Grand Slam champions during the tournament, next faces either 12th seed Zheng Qinwen of China or Russian world number 75 Anna Kalinskaya, who play their quarter-final later on Wednesday.