Svetlana Kuznetsova kept her hopes of qualifying for the WTA Finals in Singapore alive with a hard fought, 7-5 6-7(2) 6-2 win over Timea Babos in two hours and 32 minutes. Kuznetsova took a little meander as she was broken to love when serving for the match at 7-5 *5-4, but recovered in the decider against a tearful Babos who was clearly hurting at the end with a leg injury.
Elina Svitolina is enjoying an impressive end to the season; she has dropped just six games in her first two matches in Moscow to reach the semi-finals. On Thursday she strolled past Ana Konjuh, 6-1 6-1. Svitolina saved all five break points that she faced and was dominant on Konjuh’s second serve with the Croatian player winning just 16% of points behind it.
Kuznetsova and Svitolina will meet in the first of the semi-finals in what will be just a second career encounter. Svitolina won their only previous match at the Australian Open, 6-3 6-3 in 2014. I think this is a court that plays into Svitolina’s strengths.
The second semi-final will be an all unseeded affair between Julia Goerges and Daria Gavrilova. Goerges gained revenge for a defeat to Daria Kasatkina in Wuhan with a 7-5 6-1 victory while Gavrilova scrapped her way past Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, 7-5 4-6 6-3 in an exciting match. Gavrilova had a 7-5 *4-0 lead but Pavlyuchenkova claimed a virtual bagel to force a decider. Both players had medical timeouts – Pavlyuchenkova had a problem with her wrist while Gavrilova had an issue with her neck.
It looked like Pavlyuchenkova was edging this one but she couldn’t take advantage in a pivotal fourth game where Gavrilova saved six break points in six deuce game. Pavlyuchenkova then dropped her serve in the next game by virtue of a penalty point after going to town on smashing her racquet. It was petulant but at the end of the season, the players are all knackered and I can totally understand it. Gavrilova, who had wobbled in the second set, was surprisingly sure of herself from 4-2 up; with some decent serving and a bit more fizz on her groundstrokes, she convincingly sealed the win in three sets.
Gavrilova and Goerges will play each other for the first time on the tour… and I ain’t got a scooby how that one will go down! I haven’t seen any of Goerges’s matches this week but her scorelines have been impressive. Gavrilova is playing well but I wonder if that match may have taken something out of her physically. She certainly ended it well against Pavs though…
Over to Luxembourg and Kiki Bertens is finding some form again after a retched run of form in singles. Prior to this tournament she had lost seven straight matches extending back to July but now she is into the semi-finals of Luxembourg without dropping a set. Bertens dished out a 19 minute (!) first set bagel to Denisa Allertova, en route to a sweeping 6-0 6-4 victory.
Bertens will play Monica Niculescu in the semi-finals after Caroline Wozniacki was forced to pull out of the tournament with a gastrointestinal illness. It wasn’t a surprise after the Dane missed press last night due to feeling nauseous. It’s been a great run for Caroline and she’ll likely be back for Zhuhai to finish her year.
The second semi-final in Luexmbourg will be contested between Petra Kvitova and Lauren Davis. Kvitova looked set for another tough match after losing her first two service games. However, from 2-2 she absolutely flew away from Johanna Larsson, winning the last 10 games to book her place in the semi-finals with a 6-2 6-0 win in less than an hour.
Davis was two points from defeat in her quarter-final against Andrea Petkovic – in a swift turnaround, the American came back to win in three sets, 2-6 7-5 6-2 against a frustrated Petkovic. The German player lost her rag with some line calls and seemed on edge after a heated changeover with her coach where she didn’t take too kindly to his suggestions that she wasn’t competing hard enough. Credit to Davis though who really took on board her coach’s message of believing in herself and letting her arm go. She did just that, taking control of the match and advancing to her third WTA semi-final of the year.
Kvitova will be the heavy favourite to scoop the Luxembourg title but it wouldn’t surprise me if the tenacious Davis caused her a few problems. Bertens v Niculescu is a bit of a toss-up… Bertens in her quarter-final form will take it but if Niculescu begins to spin her web of dazzling forehand slices then she might drag Bertens into a semi-final scrap where I would then favour Niculescu.
The draw for the WTA Finals in Singapore takes place on Friday at 18:30 local time. You can watch the draw live HERE. It’s the final push now for the end of the season! I’m running on empty but i’m determined as ever to get stuck in and cover the tournament fully here on Moo’s Tennis Blog so stay tuned :-).