Peangthan enters semifinals

Thai teenager beats Vasylyeva, sets up last-four clash against Iijima

eye on the ball Japan’s Kumiko Iijima during her win over Ukraine’s Anna Shkudun on Thursday. DH PHOTO/ P SAMSON VICTOR

Following an impressive opening-set display where she looked completely in control of the proceedings, Ukraine’s Vasylyeva watched in horror as her game drifted into wilderness, allowing Peangthan to script a come-from-behind 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 quarterfinal victory at the KSLTA stadium.

Peangthan will lock horns against third-seeded Japanese Kumiko Iijima, who outmuscled promising teenager Anna Shkudun 6-4, 6-4 in a baseline war, in the semifinal, while Nicha Lertpitaksinchai takes on Dalila Jakupovic in the other last-four battle.

Vasylyeva, in the middle of a good run after a title-winning show in Mandya last week, had only herself to blame for the loss. A left-hander, Vasylyeva completely buried Peangthan under a barrage of forehand winners to romp away with the opening set but
sadly could not the get same weapon firing in the ensuing sets.

More than 18-year-old Peangthan’s fightback, it was Vasylyeva’s unforced errors that cost the Ukrainian the match in the end. Offered numerous chances, especially on Peangthan’s weaker second serve, Vasylyeva missed many of them.

However, Peangthan must be complimented for hanging in resolutely. Despite not serving at her best, the 18-year-old Thai fought hard, showing good retrieval skills to keep the ball in play and tiring Vasylyeva into committing errors. “I am really excited to come out unscathed,” said Peangthan through a translator. “After losing the opening set, I just wanted to play hard and keep the ball in play. I played with a lot of top spin and it seems to have worked in the end.”

Peangthan made the first breakthrough of the match, breaking Vasylyeva in the fifth game for a 3-2 lead. But the Ukrainian broke back immediately to level things before unleashing a scorching forehand cross-court winner to take a 4-3 lead. After a long tussle, Peangthan lost her serve in the eighth game when another stunning cross-court winner from Vasylyeva went whizzing past her.

The Ukrainian then served out the opening set when form began to let her down. She lost the next five games, only staging a mini fightback towards the end before firing a forehand wide to push the match into a decider.

Growing in confidence, Peangthan drew first blood in the final set by breaking Vasylyeva in the opening game. Tested a bit in the sixth, the Thai showed good courage in holding serve for 4-2 lead before blasting a cross-court winner on her first match point.

Results (prefix denotes seeding):

Singles, quarterfinals: 3-Kumiko Iijima (Jpn) bt Anna Shkudun (Ukr) 6-4, 6-4; Peangthan Pliphuech (Tha) bt Anastasiya Vasyleva (Ukr) 3-6, 6-3, 6-3; Nicha Lertpitaksinchai (Tha) bt Dalila Jakupovic (Slo) 6-2, 6-0; 7-Kristina Mladenovic (Fra) bt 4-Julia Glushko (Isr) 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.

Doubles, semifinals: 1-Yi Chen (Tpe)/ Kumiko Iijima (Jpn) bt Trang Hyung Phuong Dai (Vie)/ Peangthan Pliphuech (Tha) 6-3, 6-2; Luksika Kumkhum/ Nungnadda Wannasuk (Tha) bt Dalila Jakupovic/ Tadeja Majeric (Slo) 6-7 (4-7), 6-2, 10-8.

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