It has not been an easy year for Ana Konjuh, but after a thoroughly underwhelming campaign, she’s producing an end-of-season burst- the sort of which restores belief that the talented teenager could yet challenge for major honours in the near future.
The Croatian dismantled Agnieszka Radwanska in one of the stories of the US Open, but she must must now find the consistency to churn out such performances on a more regular basis.
She’s done a good job of it so far in Guangzhou.
A second WTA final beckons when Konjuh takes on former world number one, Jelena Jankovic on Friday.
Jankovic’s days at number one are of course, long gone, but she still retains elements of the qualities that took her to the summit of the rankings.
She is still dogged in defence, and the backhand can still do damage on its day.
But those days have become increasingly rarer.
Outside a brief flourish in Mallorca, the Serbian has really struggled for match wins this year.
Interestingly, that semi-final run in Mallorca involved an opening round victory over Konjuh in what was the only previous meeting between the two.
Friday’s fixture is a clash of styles as well as a clash of generations, and that could ultimately prove decisive in tilting the balance towards the very experienced Jankovic.
Elsewhere, look out for Dominic Thiem against Gilles Muller in Metz.
How will the big-serving Luxembourger, Muller tame the explosiveness of Thiem?
Thiem’s fitness has become an issue these days, having played, and won so many matches, in the opening half of the season.
A retirement is never out of the question when the Austrian is involved, but I’ve got to side with him to go ahead and get into the semi-finals.
It’s a cracking menu at St Petersburg as US Open champion, Stan Wawrinka returns to take on Victor Troicki; Stan should have too much for that; while Mikhail Youzhny will look to follow-up his superb victory over Milos Raonic when he confronts Alexander Zverev.