Hua Hin – Thai No 1 Luksika Kumkhum put up a brave effort before becoming the last home player to exit the singles draw at the US$125,000 EA Hua Hin Championship on Friday.
Luksika traded blow for blow with Switzerland’s Viktorija Golubic throughout the first set of their quarter-final but once the Swiss player had prevailed in the tie-break the Thai’s resistance crumbled and Golubic eased to a 7-6 (7-2) 6-0 win.
The 25-year-old world No 128, one of the few female players with a single-handed backhand, kept Luksika at bay throughout the 74-minute encounter with an all-court game to reach the final in front of more than two dozen Swiss fans.
“It was a tough first set. Luksika was playing so well. I was off balance all the time. I was lucky to take the first set and then I began to have my rhythm and started to play better and more aggressive,” said the woman from Zurich, who has a WTA title to her credit from a clay-court tournament in Gstaad last year.
After falling a break down at 5-6 in the opener, Luksika pounded a forehand winner into the corner and forced a forehand error from the Swiss to break for 6-6 and force the tie-break.
At 2-2 they could still not be separated but then the Swiss then moved up a gear, proved more solid from the back of the court and Luksika made a series of unforced errors. A double-fault gave Golubic a set point and Luksika sprayed a backhand wide to drop the first set.
From then on it was a one-way traffic for Golubic, who cleverly mixed the pace of her and kept the Thai off balance with her impressive single backhand. The second set was over in just 23 minutes.
“When you have a tough first set, it is always going to be different in the second. Her game got a bit worse and mine got a bit better. So that made the difference,” said Golubic, who was pumped up by the support from fellow Swiss players and fans, who actually outnumbered the home support.
“I heard that there are many Swiss people in Hua Hin but I was really surprised to see so them come out and see tennis. It’s really special. I felt a bit like playing at home,” said Golubic, who will play Taiwanese Hsieh Su-wei, a 6-1 7-5 winner over Barbara Haas of Austria in Saturday's semi-finals.
Former world No 7 Belinda Bencic is the other Swiss to book a semi-final spot after she came back from a disastrous first set to beat Vitalia Diatchenko of Russia 0-6 6-4 6-2.
Ex-Wimbledon and French Open doubles champion Hseih Su-wei of Taiwan downed Barbara Haas of Austria 6-1 7-1 while sixth seed Ana Bogdan of Romania upset third seed Ying Ying Duan of China 6-1 6-3.