Defending champ Wozniacki out, top seeds advance to China Open finals

Oct 06, 2019

Defending champ Wozniacki out, top seeds advance to China Open finals

Beijing (China) Oct 06: The semifinals of the 2019 China Open held here today saw the women's defending champion crashing out, while both the men's and women's top seeds advanced to the final.
The first singles match on Diamond court saw World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty squeak into the final, saving a match point to maintain her unbeaten record against No. 8 seed Kiki Bertens 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7).
Barty had a 3-0 record against Bertens going into the semifinal, and the first few games gave every indication that was to follow, as Barty went 4-1 up inside 15 minutes, including seven unanswered points from the beginning of the set.
The Australian was notably dominant on serve, logging five aces and holding every service game as she closed out the first set with relative ease.
Just as it seemed as if Barty would ease into the final, Bertens hit back with a 3-0 run of her own in the second set, help by six unforced from the world number one in the opening 10 points.
Bertens then raised her level to grab the momentum. The Belgian held serve for the remainder of the set to complete a remarkable turnaround and force a decider.
Bertens maintained momentum going into the third set, while Barty's forehand continued to give her trouble, and the Australian appeared visibly frustrated at her inability to hit the winners she had in the first set.
After breaking Barty's serve twice, Bertens served for the match at 5-3, but the Australian dug deep when it counted to break the Belgian's serve and force a tiebreak.
The tiebreak saw both players save match points, before the Australian sealed the deal off a backhand groundstroke that Bertens sent just a bit deep.
It will be this season's second premier mandatory final for Barty, and standing in her way is world number four Naomi Osaka, who extended her unbeaten run to nine with a comfortable 6-4, 6-2 victory over defending champion Caroline Wozniacki in one hour and 29 minutes.
The two players hunkered down early in the opening set, with neither committing many errors or facing break point until Wozniacki's service at 4-3, when Osaka's forehand would power her to deuce with cross court shots that began to send her opponent reeling.
Osaka would gradually start producing winners from both sides to grab the momentum (15 total in the first set), going a break up at 5-4 and serving out the set to seal the opener.
Osaka kept it going in the second set, breaking Wozniacki out of the gate with aggressive shooting from the baseline that bagged her the winners she needed, albeit with an uncharacteristically high number of unforced (29 in total).
In the day's first men's semifinal, No. 1 seed Dominic Thiem of Austria also needed three sets to defeat Russia's No. 4 seed Karen Khatchenov, in a two-hour, 43-minute marathon that ended 2-6, 7-6 (5), 7-5.
After Thiem had squandered two break points, Khatchenov seized the initiative in the first set, securing a break of his own to race into a 3-0 lead and close out the rest of the set slightly against the run of play.
Undeterred, Thiem returned to the court in a more clinical fashion, improving in both service and return games, and it seemed that perhaps the tide of the match was turning towards the Austrian.
Khatchenov hadn't read that particular script, however, and continued to pull Thiem out of position in the decider, notably securing a crucial break at 4-3 up when the Austrian lodged two unforced errors.
But just when it seemed as if the tournament's top seed would be packing his bags, Thiem broke back immediately as the Russian served for the match, forcing a decider.
The third set began with yet another twist, as Khatchenov broke Thiem in the very first game to seize the initiative once again, though the Austrian secured a break of his own at 3-2 down and then did likewise in the very last game to notch his first ever win over the Russian.
Facing Thiem in the final will be third-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas, who logged a hard-fought 7-6 (6), 6-4 win over number two seed Alexander Zverev.
Zverev ran up against a clutch opponent in the first set. Despite being broken out of the gate, Tsitsipas kept his wits about him and moved agilely to stay in rallies, keeping up with Zverev's assault of crosscourt shots from the baseline.
His patience would pay off, with Zverev slipping and allowing Tsitsipas to get a break of his own to go up 5-3. Zverev smashed his racket and received a warning from the chair, but this venting appeared to be just what he needed.He went on to respond with his own break to go one up, but that was not enough to stop a determined Tsitsipas to serve out the set and force a tiebreak.
Zverev served for the set three times only to see a series of forehand unforced errors give the Greek exactly the space he needed to find his winners and grind out the first set in just over one hour.
Tsitsipas kept it clutch in the second, just as Zverev started coughing up unforced off both sides. The Greek would break twice and never face breakpoint himself on the way to a 5-1 lead.
With Zverev on the ropes, Tsitsipas started to trip up exactly when he needed to least, throwing away six match points before finally sealing the deal with a spectacular backhand winner.
The China Open singles finals get underway with the women's match at 16:30 Beijing time today.
Source: Xinhua