Carla Suarez Navarro Seeking First Slam Semi-Final at Sixth Attempt

Carla Suarez Navarro

Nearly ten years since reaching the first of six Grand Slam quarter-finals, Carla Suarez Navarro again has a chance to reach a maiden semi-final.

The Spaniard is in the quarter-finals after consecutive comeback wins over the Estonian duo of Kaia Kanepi and Anett Kontaveit.

In order to reach the semi-finals for the first time, she will have to cause another upset, this time over 2nd seed Caroline Wozniacki.
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Carla Suarez Navarro’s surprising quarter-final run

Given that Carla Suarez Navarro entered the Australian Open on a six-match losing streak, it is not unfair to say that her run here has come as something of a surprise.

Four losses to end the 2017 season saw her fall to No.40 in the world, her lowest since 2012. Her form did not show any signs of changing at the start of the new year either. A loss to Elina Svitolina in Brisbane was understandable given the Ukranian’s form. The loss in Sydney qualifying to Kristie Ahn though, suggested that Suarez Navarro was some way from her best.

Since arriving in Melbourne though, Suarez Navarro has come alive on the court. A kind draw saw her face qualifier Magdalena Frech in the first round, a match she came through in a solid two sets.
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Luck struck in her section of the draw as the seeded players Coco Vandeweghe and Dominika Cibulkova were both eliminated in the opening round. A second-round match against Timea Babos marked her first test. She dropped the second set but strolled through the third with relative ease.

In the third round, she faced the on-form veteran, Kaia Kanepi. After losing the first set it looked as though Suarez Navarro’s run might be coming to an end. She responded magnificently though, sealing the next two sets 6-1 and 6-3 to book a spot in the fourth round.

Mesmerising comeback over Anett Kontaveit

In order to reach her third Australian Open title, Carla Suarez Navarro would have to overcome the talented youngster, Anett Kontaveit. Kontaveit, who had already upset Jelena Ostapenko, roared out of the blocks and quickly found herself 6-4 4-1 up.

The Spaniard gritted her teeth and fought back, winning the next five games to seal the second set and force a decider.
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With the only one-handed backhand remaining in the women’s draw, Suarez Navarro dealt with the Estonian’s power using trickery and shot-placement and eventually won the match 8-6 in the third set.

Can she upset Caroline Wozniacki and reach a first Slam semi-final?

In her previous five Grand Slam quarter-finals, Carla Suarez Navarro has managed to win just one set – against Eugenie Bouchard at the 2014 French Open. She has still never won a match.

If she is to win on her sixth attempt she is going to need to produce something spectacular. Her opponent, second seed Caroline Wozniacki, has looked largely impressive during the tournament. Three of her four matches have been straight set victories and in the previous round, she destroyed the in-form Magdalena Rybarikova 6-3, 6-0.
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The Dane has not looked totally unbeatable though. Wozniacki was lucky to escape a second-round exit at the hands of Jana Fett. From 5-1 down in the third set she survived, through a combination of gutsy resilience and Fett’s struggles with nerves. Suarez Navarro is a vastly more experienced player than Fett and if she were to find herself in a similar situation you would not expect her to lose.

The head-head-head between the two leans in favor of the Dane by five wins to two. Within that record, Wozniacki has never lost on hard courts – although twice has been taken to three sets.

If Carla Suarez Navarro is to reach a Grand Slam semi-final at the sixth attempt she is going to have to replicate the kind of tennis that carried her into the top-10 a few years ago. Wozniacki is playing supreme tennis so the Spaniard will need all her guile and craft to conjure up a win. It is not impossible, but it is improbable. That said this is tennis, and stranger things have happened.

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