Crawford continues rookie run in Brisbane

Organisers may disagree after yet another big name exit but bubbly American qualifier Samantha Crawford perhaps summed up her shock Brisbane International semi-final berth best.

“That was pretty cool,” the 20-year-old giggled.

Crawford became the first qualifier to make the Brisbane women’s semi-finals after thrashing former world No.9 Andrea Petkovic 6-3 6-0 at Pat Rafter Arena on Thursday.

Injuries and Crawford’s giant-killing run have ensured German fourth seed Angelique Kerber is the highest ranked woman left standing at Brisbane.

World No.10 Kerber downed Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4 6-4 in their Thursday quarter-final.

World No.24 Petkovic – ranked 118 places higher than Crawford – knew little about the American before their quarter-final, admitting she would need to do some “classic YouTube stalking”.

The aggressive Crawford added to her highlight reel after blowing the former French Open semi-finalist off the main showcourt in less than an hour.

Crawford looked just as stunned as the crowd after booking her first career WTA semi-final in just her sixth main draw appearance.

“It happened fast. I was trying to not think about it too much, not psych myself out,” said Crawford, who also downed seventh seed Belinda Bencic in the second round.

“Right after I won, in the on-court interview I was shaking, and then in the locker room I was sitting for just a little bit.

“But yeah, this is awesome.”

Crawford – yet to drop a set in Brisbane – takes on former world No.1 Victoria Azarenka, who breezed past Italian eighth seed Roberta Vinci 6-1 6-2.

Former Wimbledon semi-finalist Kerber plays Spanish sixth seed Carla Suarez Navarro, who outlasted American Varvara Lepchenko in a marathon 4-6 6-4 -7-5 match.

Ex-US Open junior champ Crawford is backing herself to cause more carnage in a Brisbane women’s draw blown wide open by the withdrawal of its biggest names.

Defending champion Maria Sharapova (forearm) and top seed Simona Halep (Achilles) withdrew earlier this week.

And No.2 seed Garbine Muguruza of Spain (foot) succumbed in the second round on Wednesday night.

Kerber did not sound too surprised by the injury withdrawals ahead of the Australian Open.

“We had two months off. It’s not so easy to start the year and to come back,” she said.

“The most important thing to think is to start easy, not playing the first matches 100 per cent because I think you need time with the weather, jet lag, everything.”

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