It was a nice feeling to catch up on tennis on Saturday after another busy week. Work is totally manic at the moment so I didn’t get to see any tennis in the week, let alone blog. I’m hoping to try and follow Singapore but don’t know how easy that will be! Saturday was semi-finals day at the three WTA tournaments this week in Hong Kong, Linz and Tianjin. Read on for six stories in Saturday’s Set Points post.
Dayana Yastremska – Another one to watch!
Recovering from a break down in both sets, Dayana Yastremska beat Zhang Shuai, 7-5 6-4, to reach her first WTA final. I’ve seen fleeting glimpses of Yastremska during the year and generally have been impressed. She is going to be a lot of fun to follow over the coming years.
At such an early stage of her career, it’s not a surprise to see a lot of inconsistency in her game. The Ukrainian player alternated between spells of erratic and peak play. I lover her fearlessness though and that should take her far. Ultimately, she was dialled in during the key moments and served out both sets convincingly. The highlight of Yastremska’s performance was her return. She absolutely hammered the Zhang serve with multiple down-the-line return winners. There was one game in the second set where Yastremska won five points in a row on the return 🔥😲.
Wang Qiang vs. Muguruza – what a match!
I thoroughly enjoyed the second of Saturday’s semi-finals in Hong Kong as Wang Qiang continued her quite remarkable Asian Swing with a rip-roaring 6-7(5) 6-4 7-5 victory over Garbiñe Muguruza. Wang was two points from being 0-4 down in the decider before mounting a comeback. It was a superb match with both players producing quality tennis, particularly at the end of the second set. It felt like most of the points were being won rather than lost. The first thing that Muguruza’s coach, Sam Sumyk, said to her at the end of the second set was this was great tennis from both players.
While a disappointing loss for Muguruza having been in the ascendancy in the decider, I think she can take a lot of positives from this match and her comments post-match seemed to reflect this. I haven’t seen a great deal of Wang Qiang during this run so watching today’s match back was fascinating to see the transformation. Wang was able to rely on her serve with 11 aces! Her mentality has come such a long way. I was so impressed by how she served out both the second and third sets. I’ve always thought Wang was a pretty solid player but has lacked belief and shown fragility before in key moments. It’s clear that confidence is absolutely buzzing right now because she was totally backing herself in the last two sets.
Since winning the Asian Games during the summer, Wang Qiang has won 21 of 25 matches including a title in Guangzhou and six top ten wins to her name. Wang has beaten Svitolina and Muguruza back-to-back to reach the Hong Kong final. Not too shabby! Only praise for Wang Qiang right now.
This was one of the best rallies i’ve seen all year!
Giorgi vs. Alexandrova for the Linz title
Back in Europe, Camila Giorgi and Ekaterina Alexandrova will be competing for the title in Linz on Sunday. I saw most of Giorgi’s semi-final win over Alison Van Uytvanck where her serve was key to the win. The Italian player held all 10 service games and withstood a late charge from Van Uytvanck at the ends of both sets to save break points to serve out the sets.
I saw Petkovic win the first set of the second semi-final against Alexandrova, 6-0, so was pretty surprised to see the final result with Alexandrova dropping a third set bagel! This will be Alexandrova’s first WTA level final on Sunday.
Bacsinszky back to winning ways in Tianjin
Karolina Pliskova and Caroline Garcia will contest Sunday’s final in Tianjin. Pliskova is looking good for Singapore after Bertens’s early exit in Linz. The highlight of the week for me has been the return of Timea Bacsinszky who reached the semi-finals with a stunning win over Aryna Sabalenka. I just adore Bacsinszky’s attitude and her non-wavering positivity through all the tough tennis moments this year.
I was hoping to watch back Sabalenka-Bacsinszky but the coverage from Tianjin has been poor with nothing on WTA TV. Now I think of it, I remember that I watched Sharapova-Sabalenka last year on YouTube. Pliskova-Garcia should be a decent final so might try and catch it on Bet365 on Sunday morning.
Tickets for the 2019 Australian Open are now on general sale. Now is a good time to share my guide for the Australian Open from visiting earlier this year. I’ve been so thrilled by all the e-mails i’ve received on this post and happy to help if anyone has any further questions!