ZHUHAI, November 3, 2017
Germany’s Julia Goerges will take on Latvian Anastasija Sevastova in the Hengqin Life WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai semi-finals on Saturday afternoon after a 6-2, 7-6(4) win over Kristina Mladenovic in their final Azalea Group match.
Ashleigh Barty of Australia will take on American CoCo Vandeweghe in Saturday’s second singles semi-final, scheduled for the evening session.
Goerges went on to court against Mladenovic on Friday knowing that winning one set would be enough to earn her a place in the last four of the $2,280,935 season-ending event in southern China.
The German started strongly, displaying the confidence earned from her recent title win at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow. Mladenovic dug in during the second set, though, and took advantage of a fractional dip in her opponent’s form to lead 5-3 before Goerges fought back to take the contest in a tiebreaker.
“I really wanted to win that match. It didn’t matter if I had to win one set, but I don’t want to go out with losing the match and still being in the semifinals. I think that’s a bit weird,” Goerges said.
“My focus was to win that match, to try to do everything to be able to come out on top at the end. After the first set, I lost a bit my focus and a little bit my tension on the body, so I wasn’t as sharp as I was in the first set.”
“Kiki (Mladenovic) took well on it, and she really stepped well into the court and moved me more around, which I didn’t really quite like, because that’s obviously my game. I tried to make sure that I come on top in the tiebreaker, and I think that was, yeah, there were some key moments in that tiebreaker, too.”
“I think it was more the situation today knowing that I have to win one set to be in the semis. I think that’s something which you don’t experience that often. It’s a new situation, I would say.”
Goerges told about her confidence:
“If you have a title on your back, I think it’s nice to carry that around. But actually, once a new tournament starts, everything starts from zero.”
“For sure it does help you to know you have won some matches in the past and you have done probably the right things to win those matches, but as I said, everything starts from zero.”
“We know how tough this competition is. Well, I just try to focus on myself, and it’s nice to finish the matches in two sets, but I don’t mind if I play three or so. But at the end, if I come out on top, I think that’s the most important thing.”
On facing Sevastova in the semi-finals, Goerges added:
“Well, tomorrow is another tough challenge. We already had a good battle in Mallorca earlier this year. We know each other for a very long time and have a lot of respect for each other.”
“Yeah, she’s a very tricky player, and she has had a great season, as well. Well, it’s just about battling it out tomorrow and the better one should win. At the same time, it’s nice to share the court with her, because we have had a lot of connections in the past.”
“Once she retired for the first time, well, I was pretty sure she’s coming back (smiling) because I kind of know her. Well, I was just glad to be able to share the court with her in Mallorca and to really see how she’s still be there and she still plays finals and still wins titles.”
“Well, tomorrow I hopefully come out on top (smiling) and be able to beat her, but at the end of the day, the better one should win.”
Stephens Retires Hurt
Retirements curtailed Friday’s other two singles matches. Chinese wildcard Shuai Peng earned a win when Elena Vesnina retired with a lower back injury in their final Bougainvillea Group match.
Sloane Stephens was also forced to retire against Barbora Strycova when she felt discomfort in her left knee during their final match in Camellia Group. Stephens is scheduled to be part of Team USA at next weekend’s Fed Cup final against Belarus but said she was hopeful of recovering in time to represent her country in Minsk.