Imperious Emily Appleton continued her sparkling start to the 2021 UK Pro League after storming through to the Week 2 semi-finals without dropping a set.
Week 1 winner Appleton has been in red-hot form since the tournament got underway this month and extended her formidable record in Loughborough. Appleton, who toppled Beth Grey in straight sets in the Week 1 final, beat Eliz Maloney 6-2 6-3 on Friday to cap another stunning week and mark herself out as the player to beat heading into the weekend.
The 21-year-old prodigy had already beaten Freya Christie, Olivia Nicholls, Annali Olivelle and Kimberly Mpukusa in the round robin format and will now meet Alice Gillan in a tantalising Saturday semi-final. Gillan finished second in Pool B after picking up four wins in five matches and beat Tanysha Dissanayake in a super tie-break on Friday.
Only Grey could beat Gillan – in a super tie-break ‘buster’ on Thursday – and it was the Merseyside star who finished at the summit of the pool after five strong days in Loughborough. But she was unable to emulate Appleton and complete an unbeaten pool stage as she suffered a surprise 7-5 4-6 5-10 defeat against Danielle Daley on Friday.
The experienced Grey, 25, will now meet Maloney in Saturday’s semi-finals after the talented Hertfordshire player finished second – behind Appleton – in Pool A.
Valuable points are up for grabs all season and one player who looks well-placed to add to his tally is Anton Matusevich, who enjoyed an unbeaten week in Pool A of the men’s draw.
The 19-year-old, who finished third in Week 1, followed up his wins against Billy Harris, George Houghton, Dan Cox and Alexis Canter – who withdrew after round two – with another victory against Julian Cash on Friday.
Cash was unable to hit the jackpot as Matusevich completed a round robin clean sweep and booked a last four clash against Sean Hodkin on Saturday. Hodkin, 22, finished second in Pool B on nine points after picking up three wins from his five group matches.
And it was Mark Whitehouse who topped that group after an impressive five days from the Surrey star, racking up ten points in the pool to book a semi-final date against Cox. Whitehouse, who competed in last year’s UK Pro Classic, beat Harry Wendelken in straight sets on Friday and will be relishing a last four duel against the evergreen Cox.
The 30-year-old, who reached the first round of Wimbledon in 2011 and 2014, has hailed the unique UK Pro League format for revitalising his career and finished second in Pool A after another solid week. Cox beat Mason Recci – who replaced Canter after his round two withdrawal – in straight sets on Friday to finish the pool on 11 points, losing only to Matusevich who beat him 6-2 6-2 on Tuesday.
With all eight semi-finalists confirmed, the stage is set for a thrilling weekend of action as the star-studded Week 2 line-up continue to duke it out for valuable ranking points in Loughborough.