Rybakina Knocks Out Mertens At Shenzhen Open

SHENZHEN, January 9, 2020 (Press Release)

In-form Kazakh-Russian Elena Rybakina continued her fine run here in the Shenzhen Open as she blazed past third seed Elise Mertens 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 in two hours and one minute to reach her second consecutive semifinal on the WTA Tour.

The 20-year-old, who has now reached the quarterfinals or better in her last four tournaments, was not in her best serving form as she failed to notch a single ace, but the seventh seed made the winners when it counted; she converted an impressive six out of the seven break chances she created, while saving 56% of the nine she faced.

“It’s great and I feel good. Today I did not serve as good as last match but I’m happy with my win today and looking forward to the next match. It’s good that I have been consistent (in my last few tournaments) but I’m just focusing on each match one by one. My serve has been helping me a lot and I play aggressive – it’s a little bit risky, but I think this has been the key to my wins,” said Rybakina, who is at a career high of No. 36.

Earlier in the day, sixth seed Garbiñe Muguruza was the first to book her spot in the semifinals with a 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 victory over Kazakhstan’s Zarina Diyas in just over two hours.

After a strong first set in which she saved six of seven break points and converted two, Muguruza started the second game with intent and put Diyas under pressure, crafting two break chances in the first game.

However, the Kazakh, who had not yet lost in 2020 after seven matches, grew in confidence after saving both and proceeded to take the next three games on the trot to go 4-0 up and held out to force a decider.

The two-time Grand Slam champ got an early break in the deciding set and even though Diyas threatened a comeback with a break in the eight game to make it 4-4, the Spaniard won eight of the next nine points and closed the match with her 13th ace to cement her first semifinal berth since last April at Monterrey.

“It was a tough match – another three set match that I started well and then she started playing better and forcing a third set. I was happy to keep playing my game and find a way to close the match when it was very tight,” said the Spanish former world number one.

Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova notched her second win in as many days over a Chinese opponent as she rallied from a set down to oust number four seed Wang Qiang 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 in two hours and eight minutes.

Chinese ace Wang got off to flying start in the first set, breaking her opponent in four of her five service games to nullify the two times she lost her serve and take a one set lead.

After losing her first serve game of the second set to go 0-2 down, fifth seed Alexandrova, who is just six places lower than Wang in the rankings at No. 34 (career high), came back strongly to take four games in a row, making it 4-2 in her favour, and then held her serve to level the tie.

The 25-year-old Russian continue her aggression into the third set, breaking the Chinese world No.28 three times in the first, seventh and final game of the decider to reach the last four for the third time in her last six Tour level tournament appearances.

She faces Muguruza in tomorrow’s first semifinal match at 1pm on Centre Court, having lost to the Spaniard in their only previous meeting at Wimbledon in 2017.

“It wasn’t easy because she played extremely well right from the first point and I started a bit slowly. Luckily, I was able to play my best in the second set. In the third set, it was extremely tough but I was able to win a few key points and I think that decided the game. I have played (Muguruza) once but it was a few years ago and I lost, hopefully tomorrow I can do better,” said the Russian, who is currently as her career best ranking of No. 34.

In the day’s final Centre Court match, Kristyna Pliskova continued her fine serving form to defeat Ukraine’s Kateryna Bondarenko 6-4, 6-4 in 72 minutes to reach her first Shenzhen Open semifinal in four consecutive appearances here.

The lanky 6-foot-tall Czech, who is yet to drop a set in the tournament, racked up 16 aces and only dropped a single game on serve during a match in which she converted three of the thirteen break opportunities she fashioned.

She meets Rybakina for the first time on tour in tomorrow’s semifinal match that will take place following the clash between Muguruza and Alexandrova.

“It was not easy to play late and with the lights – it’s very different – but I’m happy I won in two sets. My serve was actually working, which is always important, but she was playing well. I practice with (Rybakina) so I know her a little bit. She has a big game like me, she can serve well and play fast. It will be a bit different so I am looking forward to it,” said the 27-year-old world No. 66.

In the sole doubles semifinal contested today, the second seeded all-Czech pairing of Katerina Siniakova and Barbora Krejcikova made their second Shenzhen Open final in three years (lost to Begu/Halep in 2018) with a 6-2, 6-1 victory in 54 minutes over Canadian-Japanese pair Sharon Fichman and Miyu Kato.

“It’s great to be back in the final. It wasn’t the best match from my side but Barbora played very well and we are happy to be in the final. We have had three great matches so far, serving well and playing aggressive. We will continue to practice and watch the opponents tomorrow. I think the important thing is to focus on our game – if we play great, we can win whatever,” said Siniakova.

The other doubles semifinal between first time pairing Misaki Doi and Monica Niculescu against third seeds Duan Yingying and Zheng Saisai will take place following the singles semifinals matches.

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