This year’s Stuttgart and Tokyo champion Karolina Pliskova battled past Varvara Lepchenko 6-2 6-7 (3-7) 6-3 on her sixth match point at the Tianjing Open. The Czech player entered the Tianjin tournament with a wildcard to boost his chance to qualify for the WTA Finals in Singapore.
Five of the first six games of the first set featured at least one break point. Pliskova got the first break in the fourth game, but Lepchenko broke straight back with two forehand winners down the line. The top seed got another break in the sixth game to claim the first set 6-2.
The second set went on serve in the first 11 games. Lepchenko earned break points at 3-3. Lepchenko faced a match point, as she was serving to
stay in the match at 5-6, but she saved it to hold her serve with a forehand down the line forcing the set to the tie-break. Lepchenko took the edge by 7-3 to win the tie-break.
Pliskova got the first break of the second set in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead, when Lepchenko made a backhand error. The Czech player went up a double break in the seventh game after two deuces to open up a 5-2 lead. Lepchenko fended off the second match point to pull one break back for 3-5. She saved two match points with two forehand winners, but she faced a sixth match point after a double fault and a net cord. Pliskova sealed the win with a forehand down the line.
World number 122 Veronika Kudemertova fought back from one set down to beat Alison Riske 5-7 6-1 7-5. Hsieh Su Wei battled past Ajla Tomljanovic 7-6 (7-4) 7-5.
Kucova upsets Ostapenko in Hong Kong
Kristina Kucova rallied from one set down to stun 2017 Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko 5-7 6-3 6-2 in the first round of the Prudential Hong Kong Open.
Kucova has scored her biggest win since the 2016 Rogers Cu in Montreal, when she beat Carla Suarez Navarro and Johanna Konta.
Ostapenko fought back from one break down to win the first set 7-5. Kucova broke twice to race out to a 5-1 lead in the second set. Ostapenko pulled one break back in the eighth game for 3-5, but Kucova survived a late comeback and got another break in the ninth game to seal the second set 6-3. Both playertraded breaks in the second and third games of the decider, but Kucova broke twice in the fourth and eighth games to seal the third set 6-2 setting up a second round match against Bulgarian lucky loser Viktoriya Tomova, who battled past Dalila Jakupovic in thetie-break of the third set 6-3 2-6 7-6 (7-3).
Belinda Bencic storms into last four in Luxembourg
Belinda Bencic continued her impressive return to form by reaching the semi-finals in Luxembourg with a straight-sets win over Vera Lapko.
Belinda Bencic reached the semi-final stage in Luxembourg in style with a comprehensive 6-4 6-1 victory over rising star Vera Lapko.
It has been an impressive return to form this week from the Swiss, who is now starting to climb back up the rankings (she will be back in the top 40 next week) after a series of injuries which have disrupted her last three years on the WTA tour.
Bencic came through three rounds of qualifying to earn her place in the main draw. She beat fellow qualifier Arantxa Rus in straight sets in the first round and then blew away ninth seed Kirsten Flipkens 6-1 6-3 to book her place in the quarter-finals.
Those results earned the Swiss a meeting with Lapko for the second tournament in a row. Last week in Linz, the Belarussian beat Bencic 1-6 6-1 6-0.
This time, it was a totally different story. The Swiss qualifier served superbly and dominated proceedings from the baseline to wrap up victory in 81 minutes.
Lapko pushed Bencic hard in the first set and, if she had taken either of the break points she created in the second game, the match may have gone differently.
However, the Swiss held serve, broke the Belarussian in game three and never looked back. The rest of the first set went with serve and Bencic then romped away with the second set.
Bencic to face Yastremska in semi-final clash
The World No.47 did not have to wait long after her match to discover her semi-final opponent. Dayana Yastremska swatted aside Margarita Gasparyan 6-1 6-4 in exactly an hour.
The Ukrainian, 18, who earned a headline-making win over Garbine Muguruza in the last 16, annihilated the Russian’s second serve to earn five breaks in the match.
It continues a run of eight consecutive wins for Yastremska, who won her first WTA title in Hong Kong last week.
The Ukrainian’s form makes her a very dangerous opponent for Bencic, but the Swiss looks confident too and it could be a thrilling semi-final.
Dayana Yastremska upsets Garbine Muguruza in Luxembourg to score her first win over a top 20 player
Last week’s Dayana Yastremska scored her first win against a top 20 player beating two-time Grand Slam champion and now world number 13 player Garbine Muguruza 6-2 6-3 after 1 hour and nine minutes in Luxembourg.
Ukraine’s 18-year-old Dayana Yastremska has claimed the best win of her career by ranking to reach the quarter final at the BGL BNP Paribas Luxembourg Open.
Muguruza was pushed to deuce in her first two service games, but she managed to hold her serve both times. Yastremska broke twice to reel off the final four games to close out the first set 6-2.
Yastremska got an early break to open up a 2-0 lead, but Muguruza broke straight back. Both players drew level to 3-3 after four consecutive breaks. Yastremska built up a 5-3 lead after a break in the eighth game and served out for the match to secure her spot in the quarter finals.
“I was very tired after Hong Kong. I have pain everywhere. Yesterday during the match I felt very dizzy because I played very late. I just found some way to get over it and kept fighting. Today I prepared myself to win, but somewhere deep that I would not be able to show my best game, but somehow I just played”, said Yastremska.
Yastremska came to the fore in 2016, when she reached the doubles Girls final at the Australian Open and the Wimbledon Singles Junior final. She won her first ITF tournament in Brazil and made her WTA debut at the Istanbul Cup, where she lost in the first round to Nao Hibino. In 2017 the Ukrainian teenager won in the first round of the same Istanbul tournament beating Andrea Petkovic. She won her maiden WTA title in Hong Kong without dropping a set last week beating China’s Wang Qiang in the final. She rose 36 ranking places to reach her career high of world number 66.
The teenager beat Zheng Saisai, Belinda Bencic and Magda Linette at the Connecticut Cup in the qualifying round at the Connecticut Cup in New Haven.
In 2018 Yastremska made her Grand Slam debut in the qualifying round at the Australian Open, where she beat Misaki Doi, but she was beaten in the second round by Alexandra Dulgheru. After a strong summer Yastremska became the first player born in the 2000s to break into the top 100 in the WTA Ranking in July 2018.
Vera Zvonareva sweeps aside Karolina Pliskova in Moscow to take her first top 10 win in seven years
Russian qualifier and former world number 2 Vera Zvonareva swept aside this year’s Stuttgart and Tokyo champion Karolina Pliskova 6-1 6-2 in just 73 minutes at the VTB Kremlin Cup in Moscow to clinch her first top 10 win in seven years.
Former Wimbledon and US Open finalist and 2008 Kremiin Cup finalist Zvonareva got her first top 10 win since she beat former world number 1 player at the 2011 WTA Finals.
Zvonareva, who has returned from her maternity leave, broke five times and hit 24 winners. Pliskova hit 15 winners to 26 unforced errors.
Zvonareva broke twice in the first set to race out to a 4-0 lead. The Russian player held a point for 5-0 before dropping her serve in the fifth game. She got another break for 5-1 after rallying from 0-40 down. Zvonareva held her serve at love to close out the opening set 6-1.
In the second set Zvonareva got an early break to take a 2-1 lead and saved a break point with her big serve to hold her serve for 3-1. In the sixth game Zvonareva went up a double break at 4-2 with a forehand down the line on the break point. She wrapped up the match on her fourth match point, as she was serving at 5-2.
Zvonareva has reached her first Premier-level quarter final since Charleston 2012.
“I really started to play much better than in my previous matches. I had a very difficult start. The first two matches were so tough. I didn’t show my best tennis, but I tried to fight, so I found the options to play my game. Today I managed to reach a high level and it finally happened”, said Zvonareva.
Aliaksandra Sasnovich edged past Kiki Bertens 6-3 4-6 6-3. Bertens needed to reach the semfinal to stay in contention for a qualifying spot for the WTA Finals in Singapore.
Sasnovich and Bertens went to deuce in the first two games of the opening set. Bertens earned three of the four break points in two consecutive games at 2-2 and 2-3, but Sasnovich saved them to held on her serve. Bertens saved another break point in the fifth game. Sasnovich earned the first break in the seventh game of the first set to take a 4-3 lead after a series of unforced errors from Bertens and won the final three games to close out the first set 6-3.
Bertens bounced back by breaking serve in the third game of the second set to take a 2-1 lead. The Dutch player led 3-2 after a series of three consecutive breaks. Sasnovich broke back at deuce in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4, but Bertens got another break in the ninth game and served out the second set at 15 to send the match to the third set.
Sasnovich broke serve in the second game of the decider to build up a 3-0 lead, but Bertens reeled off three consecutive games with a break in the fifth game to draw level to 3-3. Sasnovich broke serve at 15 in the eighth game to earn her chance to serve for the match. The Belarusian player had to save a break point before serving out the match at the fourth deuce. Sasnovich clinched the second top 10 win of the year and the third of her career.
After Bertens’ defeat in Moscow, Pliskova and Elina Svitolina have secured the final two spots for the WTA Finals in Singapore. They have joined the eight-women field alongside Simona Halep, Angelique Kerber, Naomi Osaka, Petra Kvitova, Caroline Wozniacki and Sloane Stephens. Bertens will be the first alternate.
Pliskova has secured her spot for Singapore after winning two titles in Stuttgart and Tokyo. She also reached the final in Tianjin and the semifinals in Brisbane and Madrid.
Ons Jabeur beat Sloane Stephens 6-3 6-2 to score the biggest win of her career. Stephens was defeated by a player ranked outside the top 100. Jabeur beat a top 10 player for the third time in her career after her wins over Dominika Cibulkova at 2017 Roland Garros and Simona Halep via retirement in Beijing in 2018.
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