Kwon Soon-woo reaches semifinals at Eastbourne International
Korean tennis player Kwon Soon-woo has advanced to the semifinals at the 2021 Eastbourne International in Eastbourne, England, beating world No. 87 Ilya Ivashka in the quarterfinals on Thursday.
World No. 77 Kwon beat Ivashka in two sets in the quarterfinals: 6-4, 7-5.
Kwon will now go on to face a tough challenge in world No. 18 Alex de Minaur, the No. 2 seed in the tournament, in the semifinals on Friday, scheduled to be played at 11:20 p.m. on Friday night in Korea.
Reaching the semifinals comes as something of a surprise for Kwon, who wasn't actually supposed to be playing. After losing his qualifier to Britain's Alastair Gray over the weekend, Kwon was knocked out of the Eastbourne International.
His shot at redemption came through the so-called lucky losers system, where tournament spots are reallocated to eliminated players after a qualifying player withdraws. Lucky losers are put back into the tournament based on their ATP ranking, with Kwon replacing Reilly Opelka of the United States.
Kwon is having a good week. On Wednesday the Korea Tennis Association announced that he has qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Korea competed in the tennis competition at the Games from its introduction as a medal event in 1988 to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, when Lee Hyung-taik went out in the first round. Korea failed to qualify at the 2012 London Olympics or 2016 Rio Games.
The top 56 players in the world are eligible to compete at the Olympics based on the ranking published after the French Open on June 14. However, with a maximum of four places available per country, players outside the top 56 will qualify if players ahead of them become ineligible as their country's quota is already filled.
At No. 79 when the Olympic ranking was finalized, Kwon qualified as the 52nd player to make the Olympic cut. Korea did not qualify to compete in the women's tournament.
BY JIM BULLEY [email@example.com]