“Some of my friends at home have been watching,” Louisa Chirico said after her 7-6 (1), 6-2 win over Daria Gavrilova in the quarterfinals of the Mutua Madrid Open on Thursday.
What, exactly, would it take to get all of them to tune in this week? The 19-year-old Chirico, who is ranked 130th in the world, has come out of qualifying to reach the semifinals of one of the WTA’s four Premier Mandatory events, the highest level below the Grand Slams. Granted, Chirico got some help when Victoria Azarenka pulled out of their fourth-round match with a back injury. But this New York-area native, who only found out she had made it into the qualies late last week, has recorded wins over Gavrilova, Ana Ivanovic and the ever-tricky Monica Niculescu.
The semis were probably the last place Chirico thought she would be at the start of the tournament. Prior to this week, she hadn't been past the round of 16 at any event in 2016. She has lost in the first round of qualifying four times. And in Stuttgart, where she did qualify, Chirico was welcomed to the main draw with a 6-0, 6-0 defeat at the hands of Petra Kvitova in the first round. As of Thursday, though, Chirico was starting to sound like a player who believed she could play at this level.