Qualifier Dayana Yastremska moves into semi-finals after straight sets win

Dayana Yastremska is two wins away from emulating Emma Raducanu after beating Linda Noskova to reach the Australian Open semi-finals.

Raducanu is the only qualifier ever to win a grand slam title but Yastremska increased her tally of wins in Melbourne to eight with a 6-3 6-4 victory on Rod Laver Arena.

The stories are not exactly comparable, given Yastremska was ranked 21 in the world as a 19-year-old before serving a six-month provisional suspension for a failed doping test, for which she was later deemed to bear no fault.

But it is nevertheless a very impressive run from the Ukrainian, now 23, who is set to soar back into the top 30 from her current ranking of 93.

She is the second qualifier in the open era to reach the last four here in the women’s singles after Australian Christine Dorey in 1978.

Yastremska said: “I think it’s nice to make history because at that time I still wasn’t born. I’m super happy, and tired. I arrived here on January 3. On the days when I have a match, they do go very fast. When I have a day off, it feels like I’ve been here for six months already.”

This was a contest of first-strike tennis, with both women looking to seize the initiative in rallies as early as possible.

Dayana Yastremska, left, shakes hands with Linda Noskova
Dayana Yastremska, left, shakes hands with Linda Noskova (Louise Delmotte/AP)

“I don’t really feel like I’m playing really good,” said Yastremska, who has beaten Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova and two-time winner Victoria Azarenka during her run.

“I just try to play like I can and take the maximum from myself. Everything I have left is just fighting.”

In the last four, Yastremska will take on 12th seed Zheng Qinwen, who will also contest her first slam semi-final.

Zheng Qinwen celebrates winning a point against Anna Kalinskaya
Zheng Qinwen celebrates winning a point against Anna Kalinskaya (Alessandra Tarantino/AP)

Remarkably, if Zheng goes on to reach the final, she will have done so without facing an opponent ranked in the world’s top 50.

She is now guaranteed to be in the top 10 after the tournament, and Zheng said: “She played really good today, especially really good baseline strokes.

“I told myself, ‘Stay focused, don’t think about the first set’. I’m so happy right now. It’s the first time for me. I’m really happy to be in the semi-finals, especially with such a good performance as this.”

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