Noha Akugue makes final at hometown WTA event

Sports

HAMBURG, Germany — German teenager Noma Noha Akugue reached the final on her first time in the main draw of a WTA Tour tournament on Friday, continuing a meteoric rise for a player ranked 207th in the world.

Noha Akugue won 6-3, 6-3 against another 19-year-old, Russian Diana Shnaider, in a fairy-tale run at her hometown Hamburg European Open.

Noha Akugue, who is from the Hamburg suburbs and is a wild card entry for the tournament, paid tribute to advice from former French Open semifinalist Andrea Petkovic and Germany’s Billie Jean King Cup captain Barbara Rittner.

“At the start of the week, I didn’t even think I’d get the wild card. I thought I’d have to play quali,” she told broadcaster Servus TV. “I’m so happy I managed it today and I hope I can play my best tennis tomorrow (in the final) and perhaps also win the match.”

Noha Akugue has mostly played lower-level ITF events and was eliminated in qualifying at both the French Open and Wimbledon, and at some WTA tournaments.

Shnaider, who has combined a rise up the pro rankings with college tennis for North Carolina State, was also aiming for a first career final.

Noha Akugue’s opponent in the final will be Arantxa Rus, an experienced 32-year-old from the Netherlands who has four WTA doubles titles but will play her first singles final. The Dutch player won 2-6, 6-3, 6-1 against Daria Saville, who was in her first semifinal game since a long knee injury layoff.

The WTA said Saturday’s final between Noha Akugue and Rus would be the first between two left-handers on the women’s tour since 2018, when Petra Kvitova beat Mihaela Buzarnescu for the Prague title.

In the men’s Hamburg tournament, top-seeded Casper Ruud was upset 6-0, 6-4 by Arthur Fils for a spot in the semifinals. Fils will next play Alexander Zverev after the German beat Luca van Assche 6-3, 6-4.

Laslo Djere stunned defending champion Lorenzo Musetti 7-5, 6-3 to set up a semifinal meeting with Zhang Zhizhen. The Chinese player is in the last four of an ATP event for the first time after beating Daniel Altmaier 6-4, 6-4.

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