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Badosa ousts world No. 1 Barty at Volvo Car Open

2021 Volvo Car Open

CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA - APRIL 09: Paula Badosa of Spain returns a shot to Ashleigh Barty of Australia during the Volvo Car Open at LTP Daniel Island Tennis Center on April 09, 2021 in Charleston, South Carolina. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

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CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Paula Badosa beat top-ranked Ashleigh Barty 6-4, 6-3 at the Volvo Car Open.

The Spaniard reached the tournament semifinals in her first time at the season’s opening clay-court tournament. And she was rarely pressured by Barty on the way to her first victory over a No. 1 player.

Badosa broke Barty’s serve five times including the last two times the Australian powerhouse served after the second set was tied 3-all.

“I’m still a little bit shocked. I can’t believe what just happened,” said the 23-year-old Badosa. “When the ball went out, I was like `What just happened right now?”’

It was the second time in her past four events that Badosa advanced to the semifinals. She’ll face either American Sloane Stephens or Russia’s Veronika Kudermetova, who play on Saturday for a spot in the championship final.

Barty was coming off a victory at the Miami Open and looked strong in her first two matches in Charleston. But she fell behind Badosa and struggled to handle her opponent’s serve.

As Badosa got closer to the upset, she worried about Barty’s ability to rally. “Sometimes these matches are very tough to close,” Badosa said. “Today, I’m quite happy that I managed it well.”

Danka Kovinic of Montenegro rallied after losing the first set to oust Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan 6-7 (2), 7-5, 6-1. It’s the first time Kovinic, ranked 91st in the world, advanced to a WTA semifinal in 14 tournaments since the Taipei OEC Open in November 2019.

“I really think this clay suits me well,” she said. “I just feel really, really good here.”

Kovinic will face Ons Jabeur of Tunisia for a spot in the championship final. Jabeur, the 12th seed, defeated the youngest player in the field, 17-year-old American Coco Gauff.

Jabeur hasn’t been to a WTA semi in her last 18 events since October 2019 at the Tianjin Open in China.

Jabeur had reached the quarterfinals five times in that stretch without advancing. “So many close quarterfinals,” she said. “I’m really glad that I got the win. I’m looking forward to playing my game, looking forward to going further as I can.”