World number nine Caroline Wozniacki has become the favourite to lift the 2013 Aegon International trophy after staging an impressive comeback in her quarter-final with Ekaterina Makarova (right).
The fifth seed is the highest-ranked player left in the tournament but was made to work hard for her place in the final four after losing the opening set to the world number 25, despite having saved seven break points - five of which came in her opening service game.
However, she came back with renewed fire in her belly to win an incredible nine games on the spin, taking the second set by whitewash and storming to a 3-0 lead in the third.
Wozniacki was broken back in the third but showed her relentless power to regain the lead and close out the match 4-6, 6-0, 6-3 to set up a first ever meeting with American Jamie Hampton in the semi-finals.
Wozniacki said, “I’m so happy to have won today and it will be amazing to come back and play in front of this great crowd once again.”
Second seed Li Na was edged out of the tournament at the quarter-final stage, going down to Russian ace Elena Vesnina.
The Chinese star, ranked sixth in the world, was left to rue a whole host of unforced errors as she watched her victor progress to the semi-finals at Devonshire Park.
Li Na, who was handed a wildcard into the main draw, was broken early in the first set but managed to break straight back in the following game to eventually force a tiebreak.
The world number 36 was largely untroubled on her serve and a string of misplaced shots from Li Na saw Vesnina pocket the first set 7-6 (7-4).
The second set saw Vesnina record another early break, only for Li Na to bounce back again to level the set and restore the hope of her getting a foothold back into the contest.
Vesnina had other ideas, though, and her powerful strokes secured that all-important second break to allow her to serve out the set and win the match 7-6 (7-4), 6-3.
As a result, Vesnina, who triumphed over Britain’s Heather Watson in the second round, will go into her first ever grass-court singles semi-final against either compatriot Maria Kirilenko or Belgium’s Yanina Wickmayer, who were still playing as the Herald went to press.
The other semi-final will feature a surprise title contender in American Jamie Hampton, who has caused waves in the women’s main draw after entering as a qualifier.
The 23-year-old eased through her three qualifying matches over the weekend to be rewarded with a first-round contest against top seed Agnieszka Radwanska.
The world number 41 defied a 37-rank difference to triumph in straight sets 7-6 (7-2), 6-2 and dump the 2008 champion out of the tournament at the first hurdle for a second year running.
Hampton then went on to sail past Johanna Konta’s victor Su-Wei Hsieh, again in straight sets 6-4, 7-6 (7-2).
Her third scalp - and possibly the most impressive of the tournament so far - came against world number 28 Lucie Safarova.
The Czech took the opening set 6-3 but Hampton refused to roll over, digging in her heels to win a second-set tiebreak and the third set 6-4 to progress to the final four.
In the men’s draw, 2011 champ Andreas Seppi sailed past Czech Radek Stepanek in their quarter-final clash 6-4, 6-2 to set up a meeting with either second seed Gilles Simon or young Australian Bernard Tomic, who were also still yet to play as the Herald went to press.Ivan Dodig will face Feliciano Lopez in the other semi-final.