Taiwanese-Czech top seeds Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova on Thursday had to battle to reach their fourth doubles final of the year, while singles world No. 1 and Australian Open champion Ashleigh Barty set up a ninth career meeting with two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova at the Qatar Open.
Hsieh and Strycova beat Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova 6-4, 4-6, 12-10 in 1 hour, 35 minutes in their second semi-final meeting of the season with the Czech fourth seeds.
The pairings were evenly matched, with both saving four of six break points and converting two, but the top seeds just had the edge on second service — winning 53 percent of their points on second serve and 63 percent returning those of their opponents.
Despite that, the Taiwanese-Czech duo still had to rally from 7-3 down in the super tiebreak to complete their second semi-final victory of the season over the Czech pairing after an often feisty encounter at the Australian Open last month.
Hsieh and Strycova, who won their second title of the season in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, last Saturday, are looking to pull off a rare Middle East double and become the first pairing to sweep the two titles since Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond in 2012.
In the singles, Barty saw off Spain’s Garbine Muguruza 6-1, 6-7 (4/7), 6-2 in her quarter-final in windy and chilly conditions in Doha.
“I felt like I started exceptionally well and I was able to get the ball kind of in my areas a lot more,” the Australian top seed said.
“Then in the second set, Garbine was able to shift her court position and take a few more risks, put me on the back foot,” Barty added. “It was frustrating, I felt like I wasn’t doing a lot wrong, but I wasn’t making the most of my opportunities and wasn’t getting opportunities. So I was happy to be able to start the third set well.”
Barty has won her past three meetings with Kvitova, including the quarter-finals at the Australian Open last month.
Kvitova, the 2018 Qatar champion, trailed Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur by a break in the second set and saved two set points before securing a grueling 7-6 (7/2), 7-6 (7/4) win after 1 hour, 44 minutes.
“I’m glad how I was able to manage those tiebreaks for sure,” the Czech left-hander said. “So I’m really glad that I improved something.”
“It was difficult with the crowd as well, with the wind, different conditions today, for sure,” Kvitova added. “So I’m really glad that with very talented player as she is, with the great touch, I was able to play a good game.”
In the other semi-final, Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova was to take on Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.
Two-time Grand Slam champion Kuznetsova beat Swiss fourth seed Belinda Bencic 6-4, 6-4, while ninth seed Sabalenka came from behind to knock out China’s Zheng Saisai 3-6, 7-6 (7/2), 6-3.
KEY GOAL: Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei is now free to focus on taking her fourth doubles title of the year with Barbora Strycova; they are due to face Nao Hibino and Makoto Ninomiya Taiwanese No. 1 Hsieh Su-wei on Monday returned to the court for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the WTA Tour, falling to a 6-3, 6-1 defeat to US Open quarter-finalist Elise Mertens, who made a solid transition from the hard courts in New York to the clay at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. “I’m not sure how well I adapted, to be honest,” Mertens told the WTA Web site. “I just feel like I might still be struggling a little. It was also [Hsieh’s] first match of the week, so that was a bit of an
‘GREAT EVENING‘: In the women’s singles in Rome, Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova advanced, while Rafael Nadal swept into the quarters in the men’s singles Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Friday had to dig deep to advance to the semi-finals of the women’s doubles at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. The top seeds, who did not drop a game in their opening match on the clay courts at the Foro Italico, battled to a 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 victory over sixth seeds Veronika Kudermetova and Katerina Siniakova in 1 hour, 39 minutes. The reigning Wimbledon champions saved nine of 11 break points and converted three of eight, winning 56 percent of points on their second serve and sending down two aces
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