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Anastasia Potapova vs Tamara Zidansek WTA Moscow tennis live: Zidansek and Potapova look to continue breakthrough weeks at the Moscow River Cup

Hannah Wilks in WTA Tour 27 Jul 2018
  • Teenage wildcard Anastasia Potapova faces Slovenia's Tamara Zidansek in the semifinals of the Moscow River Cup on Saturday
  • Potapova vs Zidansek is live from Moscow on Saturday at 1pm local/11am BST
Anastasia Potapova (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Seventeen-year-old wildcard Anastasia Potapova takes on fast-rising Slovenian Tamara Zidansek for a place in the final of the Moscow River Cup.

An unexpected semifinal sees Russian wildcard Anastasia Potapova facing off with Tamara Zidansek, who upset second seed Daria Kasatkina, on Saturday.

Alongside Serbia’s Olga Danilovic, Potapova is the second 17-year-old to reach the semifinals of what is turning out to be a banner tournament for the 2001-born. The Russian, a former junior world no. 1 and the junior champion at Wimbledon in 2016, won her first ITF title last year and qualified for the main draw at Wimbledon to climb to world no. 237 by the end of the year, and has been working on cracking into the top 200 in 2018 – something she is sure to do after this stellar week in Moscow.

Potapova has amassed a decent win-loss record in 2018, primarily on the ITF circuit, finishing runner-up at the Sharm el Sheikh $15k in January, the Khimki $100k in April and the Rome $60k in July, as well as earning the first WTA main-draw win of her career in St Petersburg back in February when she took advantage of a wildcard to beat Tatjana Maria before losing to Caroline Wozniacki. 

Given a wildcard into the Moscow River Cup, Potapova opened with a win over Viktoriya Tomova before knocking out the big-serving, left-handed Kristyna Pliskova 6-4, 6-4 to make her first WTA Tour quarterfinal. Up against compatriot Valentina Ivakhnenko in the quarterfinals, Potapova was initially rocked back on her heels by the 25-year-old qualifier and lost the first set 1-6, but regrouped to score a 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 win, coming back from a break down twice in the second set and ultimately racing to a 4-0 lead in the third. 

This is a huge opportunity for Potapova to make her first WTA final – and on home soil, to boot, where she can enjoy the support of the crowd. The Russian wildcard has been relatively lucky with the draw, and she faces another surprise semifinalist in the form of Tamara Zidansek.

Tamara Zidansek
Slovenia’s Zidansek caused the shock of the tournament up to that point when she beat second seed Daria Kasatkina, who usually plays so well on home soil and on clay and who has had such a great season, in the second round on Thursday – although an arguably bigger surprise would follow on Friday in the form of top seed Julia Goerges’s straight-sets defeat to lucky loser Olga Danilovic.

Zidansek is the same age as Kasatkina, both 1997-born, and perhaps felt less intimidated by her opponent’s calibre as a result, but the Slovenian has also been building some extremely solid results in 2018. 

After winning three ITF titles throughout 2018 so far, all thee at $25k level, and reaching another final, Zidansek – who won back-to-back ITF $60k events at the back end of 2017 – broke into the top 150, lifting her ranking high enough to start trying to make inroads on the WTA Tour. The Slovenian qualified for Rabat, beating Magda Linette in the first round, and although she fell short in attempting to qualify for the French Open, losing in the second round to Deborah Chiesa, Zidansek put her time to good use – she played the WTA 125k in Bol, held during the second week, and won it, beating Ajla Tomljanovic, Anna Karolina Schmiedlova and Linette on the way. 

Zidansek broke into the top 100 for the first time as a result and although she lost in the final round of qualifying for Wimbledon to Alexandra Dulgheru, she went on to make the quarterfinals of the Budapest $100k and the second round of the WTA event in Bucharest last week, losing to Mihaela Buzarnescu. 

The Moscow River Cup represents by far the best WTA Tour run of Zidansek’s young career, however, with the Slovenian projected to break into the world’s top 75 after the tournament is over. Zidansek, who beat wildcard Antonia Lottner in the first round, was truly impressive against Kasatkina in the quarterfinals – yes, the Russian struggled mightily on serve, with ten double faults and winning less than half the points behind her first serve, which is never her most impressive shot, but she clawed her way back into the match and Zidansek had to keep her under constant pressure as well as going for her shots, with her backhand particularly effective in dictating play against the discomfited Dasha.

Zidansek backed up that victory with another impressive one over former Stuttgart champion Laura Siegemund to make her first WTA Tour semifinal, and the unheralded Slovenian looks to be a very real threat to make her first final in Moscow – she has a lot more experience than Potapova, and looked so totally in command of her game against Kasatkina and Siegemund. The crowd will be behind Potapova, who is eager to seize the occasion, but Zidansek looks poised to make her first WTA Tour final on Saturday.

Potapova vs Zidansek semifinal tennis is live from Moscow on Saturday at 1pm local/11am BST

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Anastasia Potapova vs Tamara Zidansek WTA Moscow tennis live: Zidansek and Potapova look to continue breakthrough weeks at the Moscow River Cup

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