Melbourne Park, 9 December 2010 | Eloise Johnstone

Queenslander and tournament fifth seed Ashling Sumner moved into the semifinals of the Optus 18s girls’ event today with a 7-5 6-2 win over sixth seed Azra Hazdic.

Sumner, the 2008 champion in the 16s event, felt at home under the sun at Melbourne Park; moving her taller opponent around at will on her way to victory.

Photos: Optus 18s Australian Championships

However, it was the 16-year-old Hazdic who began the match more impressively, breaking Sumner on the way to a 2-0 lead with some powerful hitting from the back of the court. But the tenacious Sumner refused to let the opening set slip away, breaking back her opponent with an exquisite drop shot to bring the score to 2-1 on serve.

The pair continued to trade breaks throughout the opening set, as both girls appeared to struggle in their service games. At 4-4, Sumner began to gain the ascendancy in the battle of the backhands, refusing to succumb to the forceful shots of her opponent.

At 6-5 up in the opening set, Sumner pounced on a relatively poor service game from Hazdic, breaking to win the opening set.

After an error ridden start to the second by Hazdic, Sumner eased her way to a 3-0 lead.

Yet the frustrated Hazdic, seemingly fuelled by her aggravation, mustered the courage to close the gap to 3-2. But that was as far as the Victorian was allowed to progress, Sumner collecting herself to close out the second set 6-2.

Looking ahead, Sumner was content with her form following her win.

“I thought I played a really good match, I started a little bit slowly but Azra played really well and I’m really happy with the way I’m playing now, looking forward to the semis.”

Sumner cited her movement and mental strength as the decisive factors that allowed her to win.

“My movement and my competitiveness [helped me win] but there wasn’t really one shot that really helped me, but definitely my movement. Tennis is so up and down that you need to stay positive and stay aggressive.”

A loser to her opponent in their previous match, Sumner had nothing but praise for her young opponent.

“Azra is definitely a great player, she’s had a really good tournament so far and she has got a lot of learning to do and lot of developing. I lost to her last time so I’m happy to have the win this time.”

Sumner next faces top seed Sophie Letcher in tomorrow’s semifinals, a match she enters brimming with confidence.

Draws and scores
18s boys’ singles draws and scores
18s girls’ singles draws and scores
18s boys’ doubles draws and scores
18s girls’ doubles draws and scores