Wang takes out Svi­tolina and Mugu­ruza on same day to reach fi­nal in Hong Kong

The National - News - - SPORT -

Chi­nese No 1 Wang Qiang con­tin­ued her fine run of form dur­ing the WTA’s Asian swing by de­feat­ing top seed Elina Svi­tolina and fourth seed Gar­bine Mugu­ruza on the same day to reach the Hong Kong Open fi­nal yes­ter­day.

Af­ter com­fort­ably see­ing off Ukraine’s Svi­tolina 6-3, 6-4 in the morn­ing in their rain-de­layed quar­ter-fi­nal, Wang was back out on court hours later where she staged a stun­ning come­back to de­feat Spaniard Mugu­ruza 6-7, 6-4, 7-5.

Wang, the world No 24, will face teenager Dayana Yas­trem­ska in to­day’s fi­nal, af­ter the Ukrainian beat out China’s No 2 Zhang Shuai 7-5, 6-4 in the ear­lier semi-fi­nal.

In a see-saw con­test strewn with ex­haust­ing ral­lies, Wang, 26, saved three con­sec­u­tive set points in the first set tie-break be­fore even­tu­ally suc­cumb­ing.

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 of Mugu­ruza. “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 world No 13 and fourth seed said.

Wang had ear­lier needed just 10 min­utes to wrap up her vic­tory against world No 5 Svi­tolina, again seal­ing the win with an ace. Wang 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.

Wang will face in the fi­nal 18-year-old Yas­trem­ska, who ear­lier this year be­came the first player born this mil­len­nium to break into the top 100.

She ap­peared over­whelmed af­ter her win over Zhang, 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.”

AFP

Wang Qiang played a rain-de­layed quar­ter-fi­nal to knock out Elina Svi­tolina be­fore ral­ly­ing past Gar­bine Mugu­ruza

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