Wang downs Svi­tolina, Mugu­ruza to reach fi­nal

Gulf Times Sport - - SPORT -

China’a num­ber one Wang Qiang staged an out­stand­ing come­back yes­ter­day to de­feat for­mer Wim­ble­don cham­pion Gar­bine Mugu­ruza 6-7 (5/7), 6-4, 7-5 and reach her first Hong Kong Open fi­nal.

The world num­ber 24 had al­ready seen off Elina Svi­tolina just hours ear­lier in a rain-de­layed quar­ter fi­nal – Wang’s high­es­tranked top 10 scalp this year – de­spite ad­mit­ting she had been shak­ing with nerves ahead of the restarted match. Wang now faces un­her­alded Dayana Yas­trem­ska in to­day’s fi­nal, af­ter the Ukrainian teenager dumped out China’s num­ber two Zhang Shuai in the ear­lier semi-fi­nal.

In a see-saw con­test strewn with jaw-drop­ping ral­lies and breaks of serve, Wang, 26, saved three con­sec­u­tive set points in the first set tie-break be­fore even­tu­ally suc­cumb­ing 5-7. She then re­cov­ered in dra­matic style, com­ing down from 0-40 down at 5-4 to clinch the sec­ond set.

Down 0-3 in the third set, Wang ad­mit­ted she was think­ing of go­ing home be­fore a pep talk from her coach stiff­ened her re­solve. “I had noth­ing to lose against her – she’s a very good player,” Wang said. “I just tried to be more pa­tient and if I had a chance then to go for it.”

She then clawed her way back from a 1-4 deficit, with Mugu­ruza – ap­pear­ing ex­hausted and out of ideas by the end of the match – los­ing her fi­nal ser­vice game with two un­forced er­rors. The sixth seed sealed the ti­tanic win with an ace.

A dis­con­so­late Mugu­ruza paid trib­ute to her op­po­nent.

“I think she played very well es­pe­cially in the im­por­tant mo­ments, she came back in the third set play­ing in­cred­i­ble ten­nis,” the Span­ish world num­ber 13 and fourth seed said. The ex-Wim­ble­don and French Open cham­pion still has two more tour­na­ments to play this sea­son, which she said she was happy with de­spite her Grand Slam high­light be­ing a semi-fi­nal fin­ish at Roland Gar­ros. Wang had ear­lier needed just 10 min­utes to wrap up her vic­tory against world num­ber five and top tour­na­ment seed Svi­tolina, again seal­ing the 6-2, 6-4 win with an ace.

The 26-year-old Chi­nese was serv­ing for the match at 5-2 in the sec­ond set when the heav­ens opened Fri­day evening.

Svi­tolina is still in the run­ning for one of the three re­main­ing places at the WTA Fi­nals in Sin­ga­pore later this month and she now faces an anx­ious wait to see if a quar­ter-fi­nal fin­ish will be enough to se­cure qual­i­fi­ca­tion.

Wang had grabbed head­lines at the French Open with her straight-sets de­mo­li­tion of Venus Wil­liams, of­fer­ing a hint of what was to come, and later over­came Karolina Pliskova in both Bei­jing and Wuhan. She said she knew lit­tle about the 102-ranked Yas­trem­ska, who pow­ered to a 7-5, 6-4 vic­tory over Zhang to reach her first WTA Tour fi­nal. The 18-year-old – who ear­lier this year be­came the first player born this mil­len­nium to break into the top 100 – ap­peared over­whelmed af­ter the win, ly­ing on her back in Cen­tre Court to soak up the cheers of the crowd.

“I was ner­vous from the first ball,” Yas­trem­ska said.

“Af­ter match point I fell on the floor be­cause I felt so re­laxed, that was my in­stinct to go and lie be­cause I needed to put it away, the emo­tions. I even started to cry a lit­tle bit.”

Top seed Karolina Pliskova pro­duced a ruth­less dis­play as she raced past Switzer­land’s Timea Bac­sin­szky 6-2 6-1 to reach the Tianjin Open fi­nal yes­ter­day.

Pliskova, who won the Pan Pa­cific Open ti­tle last month, dropped just eight points on serve and broke Bac­sin­szky four times to reach to­day’s fi­nal against France’s Caro­line Gar­cia.


Wang Qiang of China hits a re­turn dur­ing her semi-fi­nal against Gar­bine Mugu­ruza of Spain at the Hong Kong Open yes­ter­day.

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