WTA Roundup | Tomljanovic retires in Rabat, as Pliskova and Kerber prevail in Strasbourg

WTA 250 – Grand Prix Sar La Princesse Lalla Meryem, Rabat, Morocco

Favourite for the title following Garbiñe Muguruza’s premature departure from the Morocco Open on Wednesday, 2nd-seeded Ajla Tomljanovic was forced to pull out from her quarter-final with an injury concern on Thursday, sending Anna Bondar through to the semi-finals.

The Australian No 1 arrived on court with her right thigh heavily strapped, and never looked happy with her movement during the 20 minutes of play against the in-form Hungarian on Thursday, withdrawing when she was 5-1 down in the first set.

After Bondar had served an ace to take the 6th game in the day’s opening match at Rabat’s Club Des Cheminots, Tomljanovic called for the trainer and immediately afterwards decided to retire, casting a cloud on her Roland Garros preparations.

It was not immediately clear whether she had made the decision purely as a precaution with the French Open just 4 days away.

A previous finalist and semi-finalist in Rabat, Tomljanovic had looked good when beating Anna Schmiedlova 7-5 6-2 on Tuesday to progress to her second quarter-final of the season after reaching the last-8 in Istanbul last month.

“I love coming back here to Rabat – it’s my third time – and I’ve always had such a great time and I’m still here,” Tomjlanovic had said. “If I could choose where my first title would be, I wouldn’t mind it to be here.

“But there’s a very long way until then so I’m just taking it one step at a time.”

It was an earlier start than expected for Australia’s No 4 Sharma, who, on court immediately afterwards, suffered her second heavy defeat in less than 3 weeks to American Claire Liu.

The prospect of an all-Australian semi-final already extinguished, Sharma followed her compatriot Tomljanovic onto the clay court, only to be comprehensively beaten by the 21-year-old prospect, 6-4 6-1, in another last-8 encounter.

Sharma, who had only managed to take 3 games off Liu in the recent St Malo Open, put up more of a fight in the opening set, but her game unravelled in the second, as she coughed up 40 unforced errors during the 80-minute contest.

Liu, who is enjoying a good run after reaching a quarter-final and then lifting the title in her last 2 ITF tournaments on French clay, has notched up 3 wins this week and takes on Bondar on Friday for a place in the Rabat final.

The second semi-final sees 2 Italians lining up, with Martina Trevisan, who upset top seed Muguruza in round 2, against Lucia Bronzetti, also a recent ITF title winner.

Trevisan eased past 7th-seed Arantxa Rus from the Netherlands in her quarter-final, 7-6(4) 6-3, while Bronzetti came through her 2nd 3-setter of the week against Spain’s Nuria Parrizas Diaz, the 3rd seed, 6-1 3-6 7-6(5).

Angelique Kerber beat Magda Linette to reach her first clay-court semi-final since 2016 in Strasbourg


WTA 250 – Internationaux de Strasbourg

The semi-finals were also set on Thursday in Strasbourg, with top seeds Karolina Pliskova and Angelique Kerber lining up to take on Kaja Juvan and Oceane Dodin respectively on Friday.

Pliskova’s form has been spotty of late, having suffered 3 back-to-back losses and just 2 wins to 6 losses, but the World No 8 has come through a relatively easy draw to the last 4, which is a good confidence booster ahead of Paris.

In fact, the Czech was impressive in her quarter-final match against Maryna Zanevska from Belgium, rallying from a break down in the second set, twice, as well as facing down 4 set points, and still managing to pull off a tight, straight sets win, 6-4 7-6(6).

On paper Kaja Juvan is a beatable semi-final opponent, ranked just outside the top 80, but the Slovakian is in fine form this week, and pulled off an upset over 4th-seeded Elise Mertens, who is also from Belgium, 7-6 (3) 6-4.

The 21-year-old has yet to make a WTA final and, no doubt, now relishes a further challenge in Pliskova.

2nd-seeded Kerber may be 34 years old but the left-handed German, who has won 3 Grand Slam titles in her career, tends to put together good runs leading into a major, and although she came into Strasbourg on the back of 6 consecutive losses, she now finds herself in the semi-finals and a real chance at the title.

Her last 2 matches here may have been a struggle, but Kerber has still found a way through on the clay, against Aliaksandra Sasnovich in round 2, and now producing a 6-2 4-6 6-4 win over the Polish No 2, Magda Linette to make the last 4.

On the other side of the net will be the Frenchwoman, Dodin, who is hoping for her first WTA final in 6 years after demolishing 9th seed Viktorija Golubic from Switzerland, 6-3 6-0.

The home favourite produced an unexpected dominant performance against the World No 60 but now faces stiffer opposition from Kerber who, once she gets on a roll, is difficult to stop.

Lucia Bronzetti and Martina Trevisan each made their first Hologic WTA Tour semi-final and will meet at the Morocco Open on Friday




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