SHENZHEN, January 8, 2020 (Press Release)
In a tense encounter played out in front of a rapturous home audience at the Shenzhen Open, fourth seed Wang Qiang overcame a dismal mid-match dip in form to battle past Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-4, 0-6, 7-6(5) in two hours and 10 minutes on Centre Court.
World No. 28 Wang started strong with breaks in the third and fifth games of the opener, holding out to take a one set lead even though she lost her serve once in the sixth game.
The second set was handed on a platter to world No. 69 Sasnovich as Wang struggled with her serve; the Chinese won 28% of her service points and did not save a single one of the three break points she faced.
In the decider, 27-year-old Wang blinked first as she lost her serve in the fourth game to go 1-3 down, but the Chinese ace showed immense grit to recover a break in the seventh game and take the match into a thrilling tie-break finale.
The local lass raced to a 3-0 lead but unforced errors by the Chinese and aggressive play by 25-year-old Sasnovich brought the tie to a tense deadlock at 5-5. In the end, it was two consecutive errors by the Belarusian that gave Wang a much-deserved victory and a spot in tomorrow’s quarterfinal.
— Shenzhen Open (@ShenzhenOpenWTA) January 8, 2020
“I played very smoothly in the first set but then she played more aggressively in the second set and it put me under a lot of pressure. Maybe I was overconfident but I had a successful winter training and I felt strong enough to match her. At 1-3 down in the third set, I needed a change of strategy. My coach advised me to attack her forehand. He said I might need 15 mins or so, but don’t give up – you will win this. That gave me a lot of confidence and I felt I could win. Luckily I managed to adjust,” said Wang.
Former world No.1 Garbiñe Muguruza of Spain weathered a late resurgence from American Shelby Rogers to complete a 6-1, 7-6(2) straight sets victory in one hour and 23 minutes in the day’s first match on Centre Court.
Having lost her serve twice in the first set and again in the third game of the second set, Rogers seemed on course for a humbling defeat but the American rallied to level matters and force a tie-break.
The sixth seeded Spaniard started the tie-break confidently, racing to a 4-0 lead before holding serve and eventually closing out the match with a powerful forehand drive to record her first consecutive win since last year’s French Open.
“I’m happy because the first set was quickly on my side but then in the second set she came back playing very well and definitely the match was tougher. I was happy to end in the tiebreak because it’s always difficult – you never know who is going to win, it’s a 50-50 situation. I managed to play well and get the match under my belt. Yes, it is a long time (since I won consecutive matches) so I’m looking forward to my next game, to keep playing and hopefully to keep advancing in the tournament,” said the 26-year-old, currently ranked at No.35.
Meanwhile, Russian fifth seed Ekaterina Alexandrova recorded her best start to the season in four years as she moved into tomorrow’s quarterfinal with a well fought 7-6(7), 6-1 victory over China’s Peng Shuai in one hour and 22 minutes.
The world No. 34 raced into a 3-0 lead with two early breaks in the opener but then lost the next five games on the trot before recovering to pull level and force a tie-break. Both players then squandered a set point each – Alexandrova at 6-5 and Peng at 7-6 – before the Russian eventually wrapped up the tie-break and set course for the win.
The 25-year-old is contesting the Shenzhen Open for the fourth consecutive year, with her best results coming in the form of second round appearances in the last two years; she bowed out to eventual champ Sabalenka last year.
“I think she played extremely well at the end of the first set. In the second set, after I managed to break her it was easier for me. It feels great to finally play the quarterfinals because I’m playing for the fourth time I think here. I’m really excited and I hope I can do my best tomorrow. Right now, I’m feeling very confident and good on the court,” said Alexandrova.
In the most closely contested match of the tournament so far, Kazakhstan’s Zarina Diyas overcame an intense fightback from Russian Anna Blinkova to win 6-1, 6-7(9), 6-4 in two hours and 45 minutes on Court 1.
The match featured the tournament’s longest game thus far (22 points in seventh game of first set), the longest tie-break and the most break points of the tournament so far – Diyas converted nine of 22 and Blinkova converted five of 17.
In a nail-biting second set tie-break, Russian world No. 58 Blinkova, who disposed top seed Bencic yesterday, saved two match points and squandered five set points before finally forcing the rubber.
World No. 75 Diyas is in her third quarterfinal in six appearances at the Shenzhen Open and will meet Muguruza for the first time on tour tomorrow as she attempts to make her first semifinal here.
“I feel great, it was a really tough match. I had a few match points in the second set and I could have finished it early but she was playing really good so I had to fight for every point. I am very happy with my game especially at the beginning of the year. Garbiñe is such a great player – a Grand Slam champion. I never played her before so I’m really excited to play her,” said the 26-year-old.
Meanwhile, doubles top seeds Aryna Sabalenka and Elise Mertens suffered a shock defeat at the hands of first-time pairing Monica Niculescu and Misaki Doi. The Romanian-Japanese combo defeated their illustrious US Open winning opponents 7-5, 6-4 in one hour and 30 minutes.
In other doubles quarterfinal matches played today, third seeded Chinese duo Duan Yingying and Zheng Saisai saw off the challenge from Slovenian-Romanian pair Dalila Jakupovic and Raluca Olaru, winning 6-2, 7-6(5) in one hour and 36 minutes to reach the semifinals.
Also through to the last four are the Canadian-Japanese pairing of Sharon Fichman and Miyu Kato, who reversed a one set deficit against Chinese wild card duo Jiang Xinyu and Tang Qianhui to prevail 2-6, 6-4, 10-8 in one hour and 18 minutes.
All four singles quarterfinal matches will be played on Centre Court tomorrow, commencing with Diyas taking on Muguruza and followed by Wang against Alexandrova – both first time meetings.
The day’s third match on Centre Court will see another maiden clash between two seeds as third seeded Belgian Elise Mertens takes on 20-year-old rising star Elena Rybakina, who is seeded seventh here in Shenzhen.
The last singles quarterfinal of the day sees Kristyna Pliskova up against Kateryna Bondarenko; the Czech and Ukrainian have not met on tour since the Bratislava 2 quarterfinal a full decade ago (Bondarenko won in straight sets).
Also being contested tomorrow is the doubles semifinal match between the second seeded Czech duo of Katerina Siniakova and Barbora Krejcikova up against Fichman and Kato. It will be played on Court 1 from 12 noon onwards.
There will be free admission to Court 1. Tickets are available through www.damai.cn