She was 17,490km away from home, but Viktoria Kuzmova was transported back to her childhood during her quarter-final victory at the ASB Classic yesterday.
The Slovakian had to battle with the toughest conditions of the tournament in her 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 victory over 17-year-old Amanda Anisimova, with blustery Auckland wind causing chaos for the two rising stars.
The match became as much a mental grind as a physical battle, with some serves barely exceeding 100km/h as they sat up in the wind, while the glaring sun added to the difficulties on centre court.
For Kuzmova, it was time to draw on the experiences learned from growing up in Kosice, where she spent her formative tennis years training in the wind.
"It was really tough, the wind was going in circles, so you didn't know what to expect," Kuzmova said.
"It can be a little bit frustrating - you can't throw the ball on the serve as you'd want, and also the sun - on one side, it was really tough because I couldn't see anything.
"When I was growing up, it was always windy, so I tried to remember. I was practising always in the wind - so that maybe helped me."
She was more composed, with Anisimova not able to back up her win over fifth seed Barbora Strycova. Too many unforced errors and some serving struggles in the wind saw Anisimova lose an early break of serve in the third set, and Kuzmova pounced, sealing a back-and-forth victory, and leaving Anisimova to hurl her racquet in disgust when she conceded match point.
It's the third semifinal appearance in a WTA event for the 20-year-old, who has made notable progress since she visited Auckland last January.
Then, she was 138th in the world, but is now ranked 50th after a season which saw her reach two semifinals, at the Libema and Hungarian Opens.
Last year, Kuzmova's Auckland experience ended in the round of 16 at the hands of Julia Goerges, going down 6-4, 6-0, in the first of three straight-sets defeats to the German star last season.
They meet again this afternoon and Kuzmova will have to once again draw upon former experiences if she is to break through for a career-best victory.