Zhuhai | Haddad Maia, Zhu and Zheng complete Elite Trophy Last 4 line-up

Brazil’s Beatriz Haddad Maia reached the semi-final knockout stage of the Huafa Technology WTA Elite Trophy on Friday, while Zheng Qinwen delighted home fans by advancing to an all-Chinese Last 4 contest with local wild-card Zhu Lin.

The 12-player tournament is the first post-season event on the WTA Tour, featuring the 11 highest-ranked singles players who did not qualify the WTA Finals, which begin on Sunday in Cancun, Mexico, plus a wild-card.

Haddad Maia needed an hour and 37 minutes to beat France’s Caroline Garcia, 6-1 7-6(4), and set up a meeting with Daria Kasatkina for a place in Sunday’s final.

The Brazilian scored her second consecutive win of the week following her 6-4 6-4 victory over Madison Keys, and led the Camellia Group with a 2-0 record to reach her 3rd semi-final of the 2023 season following Abu Dhabi and Roland Garros.

Haddad Maia raced out to a 5-0 lead with two breaks of serve in the 2nd and 4th games, winning the first 14 points of the match, and picking Garcia off with searing passes while teeing off on her returns.

The Frenchwoman managed to avoid the bagel, though, by getting her first service hold on the board, but it was too late to save the first set, and the match settled into a straightforward rhythm of easy holds.

From Haddad Maia’s hold for 5-0 in the opener until 4-4 in the second, 11 consecutive games passed without a hint of a break point until the Brazilian converted her 4th break point to take a 5-4 lead, only for Garcia to break straight back to draw level at 5-5.

This was the tightest passage of play, with 3 multi-deuce tussles, and a plethora of errors from Garcia had left Haddad Maia serving for the match at 5-4, but the former US Open semi-finalist rebounded immediately with her finest winners of the day to break back.

The Frenchwoman then fended off 4 break points to hold for 6-5, but Haddad Maia remained solid to snuff out Garcia’s momentum.

An efficient hold to love took her into the tiebreak, which she led all the way after Garcia’s 6th double-fault conceded the first mini-break.

Garcia pulled one of the breaks back for 2-4, but Haddad Maia created 3 match points and converted on her second chance to close out the breaker and the match.

It was her 9th Top 20 win of the season, and she joins No 6 seed and Azalea Group winner Daria Kasatkina from Russia in the Last 4.

Haddad Maia finished with 13 winners to 9 unforced errors, while Garcia’s 25 winners were outweighed by her 31 miscues.

Zhu Lin won the Rose Group by virtue of sets won against Veronika Kudermetova and Luidmila Samsonova

© Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

China’s Zhu Lin joined Haddad Maia in the semi-finals as the winner of the Rose Group, the result of a stunning come-back victory for Veronika Kudermetova against Liudmila Samsonova.

All 3 players ended the group stage with a 1-1 record, but wild-card Zhu moved on as a result of a 3-2 record in sets won, having beaten Kudermetova in straight sets and winning a set in defeat against Samsonova.

In the all-Russian tussle, Kudermetova, already knocked out of semi-final contention, nonetheless saved 2 match points in a 6-4 3-6 7-5 win, denying Samsonova the semi-final berth in the process.

Samsonova led 5-2, 40-15 on serve in the final set, but, from there, Kudermetova won 19 of the last 23 points.

Kudermetova had previously led 6-4, 3-0 in the match, having saved all 7 break points she faced in the opening set.

Zheng Qinwen took out 3rd-seeded Jelena Ostapenko to win the Orchid group and set up an all-Chinese semi-final meeting with Zhu Lin on Saturday

© Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

In the evening match of Day 4, Zheng, the Chinese No 1, took out Jelena Ostapenko, the No 3 seed from Latvia, 6-4 1-6 6-2, in the winner-take-all round-robin match in the Orchid Group to land a Last 4 date with Zhu.

Zheng improved to 3-0 all-time against Ostapenko, the 2017 French Open champion, with the 2-hour win, in which she fired 11 aces and won the last 4 games.

The Zhengzhou champion has now won her past 7 matches and both of her group stage matches in Zhuhai in 3 sets.

A 5-deuce game on Ostapenko’s serve set the tone for the match, as Zheng broke serve on her 4th break point.

The World No 18 ultimately broke the Latvian serve 4 times in the match, twice in each set set won, despite winning just 6 points in Ostapenko’s 4 service games in the middle set.

The first 5 games of the final set went with serve, and a 3-deuce 6th game on Ostapenko’s delivery swung the set in Zheng’s favour.

Zheng and Zhu will now play each other in pursuit of becoming the second Chinese player to reach the final in Zhuhai after Wang Qiang was runner-up to Ashleigh Barty in 2019.

The pair have never played at tour level, but Zhu was a 6-0 6-1 winner over a 15-year-old Zheng at an ITF World Tennis Tour $60,000 event in Jinan, China back in 2018 in what was just the 6th event of Zheng’s professional career.

‘Queenwen’ won the Asian Games recently, and could yet land another title in China to her wins in Zhenghou and Palermo.

Veronika Kudermetova (L) denied compatriot Liudmila Samsonova (R) a semi-final spot at the WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai, sending Zhu Lin through as the Rose Group winner

© Lintao Zhang/Getty Images



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