No. 4 seed Veronika Kudermetova came back from the abyss to defeat No. 5 seed Beatriz Haddad Maia 6-7 (4), 7-6 (6) 6-1 to advance to the semi-finals of the Toray Pan Pacific Open. In a physical game that lasted 3 hours and 14 minutes, Kudermetova came within two points of defeat but clinched the final six games to win.

In the fifth WTA 500 semi-final of her career, Kudermetova will face either Zheng Qinwen or Claire Liu.

Only world No. 1 Iga Swiatek and No. 2 Ons Jabeur have reached more quarter-finals than Kudermetova in 2022. Tokyo was her ninth of the year and her hard-fought win over Haddad Maia propelled her into a sixth semi – season finale.

Kudermetova’s relentless return pressure was key to the game as she generated 15 break points on the Brazilian’s serve and had six breaks. Kudermetova hit 45 winners, including 11 aces. Haddad Maia replied with 22 winners. Despite the differential, the game was a physical tussle. Both women saw the 5-2 lead evaporate before edging out the other in their respective tiebreakers.

Turning: Kudermetova found herself two points short of defeat in the second-set tiebreaker at 6-6 before a brave backhand winner found the line on the set point. It was only the second tiebreaker Haddad Maia had lost all season.

As the match veered towards the three hour mark, Kudermetova grew in confidence and conviction. With a cleaner baseline, Kudermetova won the last six matches to improve her three-set record to 12-5 this season.

Match statistics: Kudermetova is now 8-7 against Top 20 opponents this season, a remarkable change from her 3-15 record in 2021.

Kudermetova vying for the WTA Finals: Kudermetova’s victory has significant implications in the run up to the WTA Finals. Going into their quarter-final showdown, Kudermetova and Haddad Maia were looking to bolster their chances of qualification. By reaching the quarter-finals, Kudermetova will move up to 9th place in the standings and can leave Tokyo in 8th place if she wins the title.

More soon…