Russian recovers from second-set meltdown and boos from crowd to win quarter-final
Petulant Daria Gavrilova stumbles into last four at Hong Kong
Daria Gavrilova reached the semi-finals of the WTA Hong Kong Open for the second year in succession after a second-set meltdown and an error-strewn win against teenager Lizette Cabrera on Friday.
The Australian world No 22 eventually came through 6-1, 3-6, 6-4, but only after an almighty struggle with her serve, a string of unforced errors and her own state of mind.
There was no sign of the drama to come when the 23-year-old Russian-born Aussie nicknamed Dasha raced through the first set 6-1 against her fellow Australian ranked 155.
But the seventh seed grew increasingly frustrated in a second set where she committed 20 unforced errors and started to get down on herself.
She took out her frustration on everyone including the crowd, her father and coach Alexei Gavrilov at courtside and the line judges as she unleashed a verbal tirade.
And when, on losing the set, she threw her racquet at her chair in disgust it brought a chorus of boos from the normally respectful centre court crowd in Victoria Park.
The third set was a dour, attritional stop-start affair, littered with double faults, challenged line calls and long games taken to deuce as neither player could gain any semblance of control.
In the end Gavrilova sneaked over the line despite serving 16 double faults and having her serve broken five times in a petulant performance.
"I have more experience than Liz and I think that helped today," Gavrilova said.
Her opponent on Saturday will be Jennifer Brady who reached a WTA semi-final for the first time in her career with a 7-5, 6-4 win over fellow American Nicole Gibbs.
"It will be a tough match. I hope I can serve better than I did today," Gavrilova said.
Gibbs, the world No 114, had beaten Brady in both their previous meetings on tour and was serving for the first set at 5-4 when her opponent enjoyed an outrageous piece of luck.
Brady slapped a return into the top of the net but it somehow popped over from the net cord to give the world No 70 three break-back points.
Brady levelled at 5-5 on the second of them to start a run of five unanswered games as her big serve and forehand took control and she powered into a 7-5, 2-0 lead.
Gibbs did manage to break back. But her underpowered serve let her down again at 4-4 and Brady calmly served out to take her place in the last four.