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