German Julia Goerges has moved into the semi-finals of the ASB Classic, winning a tight three-setter against Japan’s Nao Hibino.
The unseeded Goerges, who was once ranked 15 in the world, but is now No.50, beat her 66th-ranked opponent 6-7 (3-7) 6-2 6-4 in a match lasting just over two hours on Thursday.
There were just three service breaks and she claimed them all before clinching her place in the last four.
Making her seventh successive appearance in the Auckland tournament, Goerges has reached the semi-finals once before, in 2011, when she lost to eventual champion Greta Arn of Hungary.
She will meet Tamira Paszek on Friday for a place in the final, after the Austrian won a marathon battle against fellow qualifier Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium.
Paszek prevailed 6-4 6-7 (3-7) 6-3 after two hours and 51 minutes, having spurned chances to finish the contest earlier.
She was up 4-1 in the second set when “it felt like someone had pulled the plug and I had no energy left”.
“So I had to gather my energy again, which I did in the third,” she said.
Even then, she saw her 5-0 lead in the third set chopped back until she finally converted her seventh match point.
A former world No.26, Paszek has a present ranking of 172 after battling injuries and she was the lowest-ranked player in the main draw.
It was her second long match of the week, after her two hour 50 minute three-setter against Italy’s Francesca Schiavone in the first round.
The 25-year-old has been in a Classic semi-final once before, losing eight years ago to tournament winner Lindsay Davenport of the United States.
Paszek said she didn’t have any expectations ahead of the qualifying, but she knew she was in great shape with the work she had done in the off-season.
Paszek and Goerges are tied 2-2 in previous meetings, but haven’t played each other since 2012.