China’s Wang sets up ti­tle show­down with Ukrainian teen Yas­trem­ska in Hong Kong

Bangkok Post - - TENNIS -

>> HONG KONG: China’a No.1 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 No.24 had al­ready seen off Elina Svi­tolina just hours ear­lier in a rain-de­layed quar­ter fi­nal — Wang’s high­est-ranked top 10 scalp this year — de­spite ad­mit­ting she had been shak­ing with nerves ahead of the restarted match.

Wang now f aces un­her­alded Dayana Yas­trem­ska in to­day’s fi­nal, af­ter the Ukrainian teenager dumped out China’s No.2 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 No.13 and fourth seed said.

Wang had ear­lier needed just 10 min­utes to wrap up her vic­tory against world No.5 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 on 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.

TIANJIN OPEN DE­CIDER

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.

World No.6 Pliskova, cur­rently eighth in the Race to Sin­ga­pore stand­ings, is bat­tling for one of the three avail­able spots in the sea­son-end­ing WTA Fi­nals start­ing on Oct 21.

The 26-year-old Czech would im­prove her chances by claim­ing her third ti­tle of the sea­son to­day.

“I know I have a good chance to get to Sin­ga­pore be­tween this week and next week as well,” Pliskova said.

Sec­ond seed Gar­cia cruised past Tai­wan’s Hsieh Su-wei 6-3, 6-4 to move into her first fi­nal since lift­ing back-to-back ti­tles in Wuhan and Bei­jing last year.

Wang Qiang in ac­tion against Gar­bine Mugu­ruza dur­ing their semi-fi­nal match.

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