Canberra ACT, Australia, 30 March 2018 | David Packman

It was a great day for the locals in Canberra as all three Australians competing in the ACT Claycourt International #2 quarterfinals progressed to the next stage, overcoming more-fancied opponents.

Ellen Perez stood out with her upset win over third seed Jia-Jing Lu of China 7-6(2) 7-6(3).

“She’s a high-level player so it’s nice to get another win against someone ranked higher than myself,” Perez, the No.7 seed, said. “I had opportunities to close out both sets when I was serving for it but when I went to the tiebreaks I was pretty clear what I was doing and managed to get it done.”

The 22-year-old from Shellharbour in NSW is rising in confidence on the red dirt.

“I’m getting a lot of matches on the clay so I’m getting pretty comfortable out here,” she said. “Clay is my favourite surface. I enjoy having time on the ball and being able to slide and kind of grind a little bit.

“Each match it feels like I’m building on something, so to be in the semis, I definitely feel like my tennis is going well.”

Perez now faces an even tougher challenge to make the final in Japanese second seed Eri Hozumi, who dismantled in-form Brit Katy Dunne 6-1 6-0.

“I played her in the Toowoomba semifinals and she got the better of me there,” Perez said. “She looks like she’s playing really well so I will just come and see what I can do.”

Zoe Hives (No.6) had an easier time of it on Friday when her opponent, the tournament’s top seed, Brit Gabriella Taylor, was forced to retire at 5-5 in the opening set.

“I’m really happy to get through,” Hives said. “I was actually really enjoying the match until she hurt herself so it’s a bit of shame but it was a good match still.”

Hives will play fellow Victorian Jaimee Fourlis for a finals berth. Fourlis played out a seesawing opening two sets against fourth-seeded Frenchwoman Sherazad Reix but eventually took the match 6-1 1-6 7-5.

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