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Dalma Galfi thrills Hungarian fans with Budapest breakthrough
The wild card edged past Olga Danilovic to book a semifinal clash with top seed Yulia Putintseva.
Published Jul 16, 2021
WATCH: Galfi secured victory on her sixth match point to reach her first WTA semifinal.
Dalma Galfi thrilled home fans when the wild card knocked out Olga Danilovic, 6-3, 6-2, to reach her first WTA semifinal at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
“It’s really, really nice to have people around, watching our matches and supporting us,” Galfi told me after the match. “I’ve never played this good in front of the home crowd; I would put too much pressure on myself before, especially when I would play in front of them, but this week it actually helps me that they’re here and supporting me.”
Galfi was one to watch as a junior, becoming the first from her country to win the US Open girl’s singles title in 2015. She came close to a Top 100 debut two years later before the pressure to make a major break through sent her spiraling down to a low of No. 354 the following season.
“I wouldn’t say I had much pressure in the beginning, because I was still kind of a junior, I was young. Then, I began to feel like I was the one putting pressure on myself for the next couple of years where, I knew I could reach this level but just didn’t have the mindset for it.”
A bright start to 2020 was ultimately undone by the global pandemic, one that separated her from French coach Bastien Fazincani for over a year.
Just before starting quarantine, I already felt like I was on the come up, so it really broke me for the first couple of weeks in lockdown, that I wasn’t able to continue...Now that I’ve made this semifinal, I just want to go as far as I can! I wouldn’t say I set too many goals; I just want to play my game, enjoy, and improve as much as myself. Dalma Galfi
“I think it helped me realize how lucky I am to be a tennis player and travel around the world, and do what I love,” she said of her time in quarantine. “When I was able to restart my career, I just had this feeling that kept me going and I was so motivated to do well.”
Now 22, Galfi has been on a rampage since reuniting with Fazincani in the spring, reaching three ITF Pro Circuit finals—including one at a 100K, her best result in nearly five years—and winning one title. Feeling fatigued and hampered by a pelvic injury, the Hungarian nonetheless had few expectations coming into her home tournament.
“I was pretty tired this morning, and am struggling with a few injuries. I’ve been spending a lot of time with the physios, and they’re helping me a lot. It’s tough; I’m playing on pain killers and it’s not easy, but since I’m at home, I want to fight and keep going to do what I love.”
With a partisan crowd led by former player Agnes Bukta, who is also part of Galfi’s coaching team, the hometown favorite played a clean match against the streaky Serb, securing victory on her sixth match point and 19th winner.
Set to play top seed Yulia Putintseva for her first WTA final, Galfi has already satisfied pre-season goals of playing Grand Slam qualifying and returning to the Top 150—her run to the semifinals has her tentatively slotted at No. 152—and doesn’t plan to make any more with only a clean bill of health standing between her and continued success.
“All of the matches I’ve won this week, those have been just ‘Wow’ moments for me. The whole crowd stands up to cheer for me, and it's just an amazing feeling.”
Around the grounds…
Hopes of a second Hungarian semifinalist were dashed when Panna Udvardy bowed out to surging Ukrainian Anhelina Kalinina, 6-4, 6-4. Kalinina, who beat Galfi in the final of that 100K Pro Circuit event in Contrexville, will take on No. 2 seed Danielle Collins after the American put down a challenge from Argentine Paula Ormaechea, 6-1, 6-4.
Putintseva was first into the final four on Friday morning, weathering a titanic three-setter to defeat Kateryna Kozlova, 6-7 (4), 6-0, 7-5. Into her first semifinal in over two years, the Kazakh will play Galfi for the first time.