2014 finalist Camila Giorgi reached the fourth semifinal of the year in Linz. The hard-hitting Italian lost the first set of her tournament but she defeated 63 36 62 Margarita Gasparyan and assured herself to improve her career-high rank at No.29.
Giorgi will meet Alison Van Uytvanck to seal the sixth career final at WTA level. The Belgian dethroned defending champion Barbora Strycova 3-6 6-4 6-4 to claim the second semifinal of the season after the title-run in Budapest.
In the other semifinal, Andrea Petkovic will meet Ekaterina Alexandrova. The German dismissed Kiki Mladenovic 6-1 6-3, the Russian upset the compatriot Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-3 7-5. Tashkent champion Gasparyan, coming off her first Top 10 win over Kiki Bertens, had beaten Giorgi is the second-round here in Linz in 2015, almost with the same exact score, 6-3 2-6 6-3.
Giorgi, who lost to Karolina Pliskova missing a match point in the title-match here four years ago, is projected to overcome Maria Sharapova and could climb a step higher at No.28 if she wins the title and Hsieh doesn't triumph at the Tianjin Open.
The Italian beat Van Uytvanck in both their clashes, at 2015 Miami and at 2018 Lugano, losing eight games in four sets combined. The Belgian levelled at 2-2 their head to head record having won the most recent of their previous meetings, in the 2015 quarterfinals.
"I am good friend with Kirsten Flipkens, she likes coaching and has a great eye for it. It's nice someone comes and has the experience to tell you what to do as she knows exactly what it's to be on court and do the things you have to do, it's a great advantage," she told after the match, as Italian colleagues Giulio Gasparin and Michele Galoppini, in Linz to cover the tournament, tweeted.
"Flipkens has been my coach also in Budapest this year, when I won the trophy. We've a pretty good record together" she added laughing. In a clash of contrasting styles, Strycova showed more consistency on the big points in the opening set but she gradually lost her patience.
She got mad after a code violation received as umpire thought to understand one of her outbursts in Czech, Van Uyvanck used the competitive advantage to play her tennis and dictate the proceedings. Strycova, who went 3-1 down in the decider, wasted a golden opportunity to level at 4-4 and the Belgian managed to complete the eight comeback win of the season.
Wildcard Andrea Petkovic extended her unbeaten head-to-head record against Kristina Mladenovic to 6-0 (7-0 considering the 2017 Hopman Cup clash) having dropped just one set to the Frenchwoman in those meetings. Mladenovic, who won just 54% first serve points during the match, had completed back-to-back main draw victories for just the sixth time this season after the runner-up showing in St.Petersburg, Acapulco, Madrid, Wimbledon and Cincinnati.
Petkovic, who claimed 73% second serve points, will face Alexandrova for the first time. The Russian, who had reached her maiden WTA quarterfinal three weeks ago in Seoul, became the fifth qualifier to reach the semifinals since 2009, following Kirsten Flipkens (2012), Irina-Camelia Begu (a lucky loser in 2012), Anna-Lena Friedsam (2014) and Mihaela Buzarnescu (2017).