Riske, Cristian advance to Linz final on injury-marred day
LINZ, Austria (AP) — Alison Riske advanced to the final of the Upper Austria Ladies Linz Thursday when fellow American Danielle Collins pulled out of their match with a right arm injury after losing the first set 7-5.
It was the only set played on semifinals day, as Simona Halep withdrew from her all-Romanian match against Jaqueline Cristian with a knee injury.
It’s the 11th career final and second of the season for Riske, after losing to Jasmine Paolini of Italy in Portoroz, Slovenia, in September.
“Honestly, I don’t have words for it,” said the 73rd-ranked American, who has two career WTA titles and was ranked 18th two years ago before various injuries forced her out for nine months.
“I had a really rocky year. It’s been a slow process coming back. I get emotional thinking about it because it’s definitely been a journey. So, I’m very grateful to be in the final.”
Riske went 3-1 down against the third-seeded Collins, but leveled for 3-3 and had another break at 5-5 before closing out the set with a love game on her serve.
Collins, who played with her right arm taped, was attended by a physio but quickly hinted that she couldn’t play on. She hugged Riske before leaving the court.
Riske has not played Cristian before.
The 100th-ranked Romanian advanced to her first WTA final after Halep pulled out a few hours before their match, citing a knee injury she sustained in Wednesday’s quarterfinal.
“I would do anything to be able to play, but it is swollen and painful and playing will only make it worse,” Halep wrote on Twitter.
The withdrawal put an end to the former top-ranked Halep’s streak of winning at least one tournament each year since 2013.
Cristian lost in qualifying but still made the main draw after another Romanian player, Sorana Cirstea, withdrew from the event.
Cristian became only the fifth “lucky loser” since 2000 to reach a WTA final. The previous one was American Coco Gauff, who did it at the same Austrian indoor event two years ago, and ended up winning the title.
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