Freya Christie and Francesca Stephenson are the only Brits in ITF action that have reached the semi-final this week, although their were a host of Brits who reached the quarters before falling to superior opposition over the course of the past few days.Most notably, Suzy Larkin won her first two ITF main draw matches and 15-year-old Francesca Jones continued her excellent senior form with a further two $10k victories.
Good going again for @Freya_Christie with 6-3 6-3 win over Gumulya (INA) in Incheon, Korea. Now plays top seed Han (KOR) in SF.
— ken weatherley (@kenweatherley) May 27, 2016
Antalya 10K: In the SFs, (7/Q) @fran_stephenson plays 4th seed Elixane Lechemia FRA WR 666 (CH 380 in 2011)
Could be a devil of a match 😉
— Steven (@GBtennis) May 27, 2016
Christie, who is playing as the eighth seed at the $25k event in Korea, won her second round and quarter-final matches without much resistance, defeating Omani Fatma Al Nabhani 6-2 6-1 after a dominating performance, while a 6-3 6-3 victory in the quarters over Indonesian qualifier Beatrice Gumulya was slightly more hard-fought, but with the Brit securing six breaks of serve from eight looks, it would have taken a complete collapse on serve to lose the match against the 25-year-old.
The 18-year-old Brit has fallen away from her career high of 346 in the past two weeks, but the world #352 is sure to claim yet another new career high thanks to this run to the semis, her first ITF semi-final of the year. Her next opponent is tough though: top seed Na-Lae Han of Korea has won nine of her last ten matches on hard courts, and 71% of matches against players outside the top 200 in the last 12 months. Christie will need to be at her very best to secure a spot in the final.
In other women’s $25k action, Harriet Dart reached the second round in Korea, while both Gabi Taylor and Katy Dunne reached the quarters in Uzbekistan and Japan respectively. Taylor, unseeded at the event in the depth of central Asia, scored an excellent 6-3 6-2 victory over Ukrainian third seed Valeriya Strakhova without dropping a service game, before squandering two set points in the first set against Russian Veronika Kudermetova and going down 7-6(3) 7-6(3) in the quarters. Dunne, seeded seventh in Japan, beat Japanese wildcard Mihoki Miyahara 6-4 6-1 before losing to Risa Ushijima, also of Japan, 6-4 6-4 after being broken five times.
The only other surviving Brit is Francesca Stephenson, the seventh seed at the $10k event in Turkey this week. The real surprise package here, though, was Suzy Larkin, the unranked British qualifier who, at 23, has never been ranked on the WTA Tour but won two matches this week in Antalya. Larkin, eighth seed Maia Lumsden and Stephenson all successfully navigated the first round – with Jazzamay Drew falling – before all three Brit secured second round victories. Larkin came from a set and a break 3-1 down to win 2-6 6-4 6-2 against a fellow qualifier, Ulyana Ayzatulina of Russia, saving eighteen of twenty-three break points in a quite incredible match. Lumsden and Stephenson also came through in three sets, with Stephenson coming back from aset down to beat Turk Dilara Yurtkuran, and Lumsden coming past Anita Husaric of Bosnia 6-3 2-6 6-4.
In the quarter-finals, Stephenson met Larkin, and the unranked 23-year-old’s excellent run came to an abrupt end, with Stephenson winning 6-1 6-1 in very comfortable fashion. Lumsden met top seed Pemra Ozgen and fought hard, but eventually succumbed 6-4 7-5. Stephenson will play fourth seed Elixane Lechemia of France in the semi-finals; it’s both players’ first ITF semi-final of the year. In the men’s draw, qualifier Imran Aswat won his first round match but fell in the second to Muhammet Haylaz 6-4 6-1.
One of the stories of the last two weeks has been 15-year-old Francesca Jones’ performance at senior level. Last week, she won her first ever senior main draw match with a R1 win in Tunisia; this week she’s gone a step further and won two. After a comeback victory in round one, Jones went on to destroy Kazakh Ekaterina Kluyeva 6-1 6-0 in the second round, serving magnificently and securing six breaks from six windows of opportunity. The dream run came to an end against top seed Ganna Poznikhirenko of Ukraine 6-2 6-0 in the quarter-finals, but the Brit is now one main draw win away from a first ever WTA ranking – and at such a tender age, the future seems very bright for our latest teenager breakout star.
To round things off, Farris Gosea retired while trailing 3-5 against 5th seed Federico Zeballos of Bolivia in the second round in Mexico, while Billy Harris couldn’t add to his single point from the event in Portugal after he also exited in the second round, going down 6-4 7-5 to fifth seed Jorge Hernando Ruano of Spain.
SF: Freya Christie (Korea $25k); Francesca Stephenson (Turkey $10k)
QF: Gabi Taylor (Uzbekistan $25k); Katy Dunne (Japan $25k); [Q] Francesca Jones (Tunisia $10k); [Q] Suzy Larkin, Maia Lumsden (Turkey $10k)
R2: Harriet Dart (Korea $25k); Billy Harris (Portugal $10k); [SE] Farris Gosea (Mexico $10k), [Q] Imran Aswat (Turkey $10k)
R1: Jazzamay Drew, [Q] Ewen Lumsden (Turkey $10k); [Q] Matthew Brooklyn (Guam $10k) [Q] George Davies (Israel $10k); Dan Dowson, [WC] James Allemby (Tunisia $10k)
FQR: Rhett Purcell (China $25k); Dylan Gee (Algeria $10k); Jamie Praditngam, Matthew Chadwick (Turkey $10k)
QR2: Daniel Gunn (Bulgaria $10k); Enrique Vidal, Zak Khan (Spain $10k)
QR1: Samuel Beddow (Mexico $10k); Marco Wright (Portugal $10k); [qWC] Roberto Preka (Spain $10k)