Halep withdraws, Collins retires - Riske, Cristian to play for Upper Austria Ladies Linz title

US-American Alison Riske and Jaqueline Cristian of Romania will compete in Friday’s singles final of the Upper Austria Ladies Linz.

Cristian received a walkover from two-time Grand-Slam champion and No. 2 seed Simona Halep, who was forced to withdraw from her semi-final match on Thursday.

“Unfortunately, I am not able to play in my semi-final this evening after injuring my knee in my match yesterday,” said Halep, whose streak of winning at least one WTA title every year between 2013 and 2020 has come to an end. “I would do anything to be able to play, but it is swollen and painful and playing will only make it worse. I want to say a huge thank you to the tournament and fans here at the Upper Austria Ladies Linz for a fantastic week. I hope to be back.”

World No. 100 Cristian will appear in her maiden WTA Tour final. The 23-year-old has become the first lucky loser to reach a championship match on the WTA Tour since Coco Gauff, who celebrated her maiden triumph, also in Linz, two years ago. Cristian has captured 10 trophies on the ITF Pro Circuit and is bidding for the biggest title of her career.

Collins retires, Riske advances

Later, No. 8 seed Riske benefited from the retirement of No. 3 seed Danielle Collins. In the all-US-American encounter, Collins was forced to stop playing with a shoulder injury after Riske had clinched the first set 7-5.

"I had a really rocky year," Riske told tournament ambassador Barbara Schett during her on-court interview. "I was injured for about nine months. I was just healthy starting at Wimbledon, and it's been a slow process coming back. I get emotional thinking about it because it's definitely been a journey. I am very grateful to be in the final and will give it a battle tomorrow."

Riske will play in her second title match of the season after she finished runner-up to Jasmine Paolini in Portoroz, Slovenia in September. The World No. 73 could lift her third WTA career trophy, her first since s’Hertogenbosch two years ago. Cristian and Riske will meet for the first time.

Friday’s action will start at 4 pm local time with the doubles final when third-seeded Russians Natela Dzalamidze and Kamilla Rakhimova are taking on the all-Chinese combination of Wang Xinyu and Zheng Saisai.

It will be followed by the singles final not before 7 pm.