Garbine Muguruza reaches her second semifinal in a row in Rome

Garbine Muguruza reaches her second semifinal in a row in Rome

Garbine Muguruza beat Venus Williams 6-2 3-6 6-2 to secure her spot in the semifinals for the second year in a row at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. Muguruza leads 3-2 in her five head-to-head matches against Svitolina.

The Spanish player of Venezuelan origin will be back into the WTA Top 5 when the new ranking will be released next Monday. This will guarantee her a top 4 ranking at Roland Garros, where she will defend her last year’s title.

Muguruza broke twice to race out to a 4-0 lead and held her service games to wrap up the first set 6-2. The Spaniard brought up five break points, but Williams fended off all of them before getting the only break to clinch the second set forcing the match to the third set. Muguruza rallied from one break down by breaking straight back in the second game of the decider and broke twice in the fourth and eighth games to reach her second consecutive semifinal in Rome in 1 hour and 46 minutes.

Muguruza will face Elina Svitolina, who beat Karolina Pliskova 6-2 7-6 (11-9) in the Next Gen Arena in 1 hour and 35 minutes.

Svitolina, who broke into the top 10 earlier this year and won three titles in 2017 in Taipei, Dubai and Istanbul, scored her first win against the Czech player after losing all her four previous head-to-head matches, including their most recent clash in the Brisbane semifinal last January.

In the opening set Pliskova held serve only once and won just 44 percent of points on her first serve and just 27 percent on her second serve. Svitolina broke serve three times to cruise to winning the first set in just under a half hour.

Pliskova came back from 0-2 down by breaking serve twice. The Czech star was within a game from winning the second set at 5-4 but Svitolina drew level sending the match to the tie-break. Pliskova went up a break in the second set and brought up three set points in the tie-break but Svitolina fended them off before earning match points. The Ukrainian player converted on her second opportunity to secure her spot in the semifinal.

Svitolina has improved her record to 4-0 against top 5 players after beating Angelique Kerber three times earlier this year.

“I am very happy with today, not even just that I won this match but with the way I played and how I handled the pressure. Karolina had a lot of set points and she had been serving for the set. I was just trying to stay in the zone and not think about what’s going to happen. I couldn’t even believe it when I finished in two sets, I am proud of how I handled the pressure”, said Svitolina.

“I had three good matches here, which is better than all my other clay tournaments. It’s definitely an improvement, and there is still Paris in front of me”, said Pliskova.

Kiki Bertens beat Daria Gavrilova 6-3 6-3 setting up a semifinal match against Simona Halep, who defeated Anett Kontaveit 6-2 6-4. The Dutch player won the Nurnberg title and reached the semifinal last year at Roland Garros.

Gavrilova, who came through the qualifying round, won five consecutive matches this week to reach the semifinal in the Eternal City for the second time in her career. After a trade of breaks at the start of the match, Bertens broke serve in the sixth game to open up a 4-2 lead with a backhand volley. The Dutch player did not face a break point in her next service games to close out the first set 6-3 on her first set point. Bertens went up a double break to race out to a 3-0 lead. Gavrilova got one of the two breaks back. In the ninth game Gavrilova recovered from 0-40 down but dropped her serve on the fourth match point.

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