This time last year Romanian Mihaela Buzarnescu was ranked outside the world’s top 500. Now she’s into the Hobart International semifinals.
The 29-year-old is enjoying a stunning late-career revival, one that is even surprising herself.
Tonight she defeated American Alison Riske to reach her second career WTA semifinal, a result that will see her make her top 50 debut next week.
“It’s amazing, I was never expecting these results to be honest,” Buzarnescu said.
“For me it was like a miracle. I was dreaming about it since I was young, but never thought it would eventually happen.”
Riske started their quarterfinal showdown strongly, establishing a 5-2 first set lead.
Buzarnescu admitted when she was facing three set points she started thinking about a fellow Romanian player.
“I was thinking about my good friend Irina Bara, a Romanian who was playing today in Melbourne in the first round of (Australian Open) qualies,” she said.
“She was down 5-3 in the third set and she won the match. So I was saying ‘oh my god how can she do that’… so I was like I have to push myself as well.”
Buzarnescu managed to fight back, claiming the first set in a tiebreak.
The No.57-ranked Buzarnescu was dictating points, playing an aggressive game and rushing the net when she could. An overwhelmed Riske only won 11 points in a one-sided second set.
Winning 11 of the final 13 games, Buzarnescu claimed an impressive 7-6(5) 6-1 victory in 90 minutes.
It sets up a semifinal showdown with fifth seed Lesia Tsurenko in tomorrow’s semifinal.
“I’ve never played her, but I know she’s a good player,” Buzarnescu said. “I just want to enjoy and play my best tennis.”