Sat, Feb 24, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Muguruza downs Garcia to make semis

AFP, DUBAI, United Arab Emirates

Spain’s Garbine Muguruza returns to Caroline Garcia of France in their Dubai Championships quarter-final in the United Arab Emirates on Thursday.

Photo: EPA

Spain’s Garbine Muguruza on Thursday reached the Dubai Championships semi-finals for the second time with a 7-5, 6-2 defeat of Caroline Garcia, while Angelique Kerber set up a last-four clash with Elina Svitolina.

Reigning Wimbledon champion Muguruza needed more than an hour to claim the opening set over the fifth-seeded Frenchwoman, who she beat from a set down last week in Doha, but the match went quickly compared with the second seed’s epic the night before which ended at 2am.

“I was a little bit upset because I had to play late and went to bed at 4am. There’s nothing to do about that,” Muguruza said. “Today, I somehow fought with a little bit of the tiredness of yesterday. That’s it.”

Muguruza caught fire in the second set, winning 13 points in a row en route to a 4-1 lead.

The match was twice interrupted by rain, before the 24-year-old closed out the win as she broke Garcia for a third time in the set and then served it out.

“It was a very good match, especially the first set,” Muguruza said. “I felt much better this match than the match we played in Doha. When you play a top-10 player and you beat second time in a row, it gives you a good sign that what I’m doing is right.”

The two-time Grand Slam winner is seeking her first title since Cincinnati in August last year and was next due to face Daria Kasatkina, a winner over fellow Russian Elena Vesnina 7-6 (7/5), 6-1.

Kerber and Svitolina were to face off in the other semi-final after both raced to straight-sets wins.

Holder and top seed Svitolina brushed aside Japan’s Naomi Osaka 6-2, 6-4, while German sixth seed Kerber won a rematch of the 2016 US Open final, beating Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-3.

Kerber, ranked ninth after a good start to the season, claimed her 15th win of the year, pulling her level for the most on the WTA Tour with world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki.

“I have much more confidence than when I started the year where I actually had no idea where I was, especially after last year,” Kerber said. “I have already so many matches under my belt, so that gives me much more match confidence. I’m going out there and just thinking about the next match, the next point — nothing else.”

Svitolina ended a run of two straight losses to Osaka, ranked 48th and the first Japanese quarter-finalist at the event since 2004.

“I had a couple of tough matches against her. I had to be ready for her to come back,” Svitolina said. “I had to be ready for her to raise her level.”

World No. 4 Svitolina took control of the opening set against Osaka with a 5-0 lead.

After claiming the first set, Svitolina’s level dropped, with Osaka breaking in the second game and taking a 4-1 advantage before being reeled in.

Svitolina raced to victory with five consecutive games, closing out the win on a net cord.

In yesterday’s first doubles semi-final, Taiwan’s Chan Hao-ching and Yang Zhaoxuan of China defeated Alicja Rosolska of Poland and Abigail Spears of the US 6-4, 7-5 in 1 hour, 29 minutes to advance to today’s final.

In the second semi-final, fourth seeds Hsieh Su-wei of Taiwan and Peng Shuai of China were due to play Russian top seeds Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina.

Additional reporting by staff writer

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