Zhuhai | Wang demolishes Muguruza
The semi-finals of the Hengqin Life WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai did not pan out quite as planned when Madison Keys withdrew from the competition due to an injury to her left knee.
Didn’t have any pressure today. Went on with the right mindset and nothing to lose, Wang Qiang
Her place was taken by Wang Qiang, the runner-up of the Azalea Group, who faced Garbiñe Muguruza in the last match on Stadium Court on Saturday.
“I am very sorry to have to withdraw from the tournament,” the American said in a statement.
“Zhuhai is such a wonderful city and I love playing in front of the fans here, so this was a very difficult decision. Thank you for all of support and see you all in 2019.”
Keys had progressed from the Azalea Group with one straight-sets win against Daria Kasatkina and one three-set loss to Wang, but her left knee was visibly taped during her second match.
The diminutive Wang is following in the footsteps of Li Na as China’s tennis cover girl and relishing the prospects provided by Key’s departure, celebrating with coloured ribbons in her hair.
Coached by Peter McNamara, Wang is a tough competitor, who enjoys the challenge and made the most of her unexpected appearance in the semi-finals on Saturday against firm favourite Muguruza.
She saved 2 break points at 1-2 with fine serving to stay in the hunt, and then applied pressure on the Spaniard by out-rallying her to conjure up a couple of break points herself in the following game, which she eventually took by converting her third chance to take the lead.
At 3-2, Muguruza had a heated exchange with her coach, Sam Sumyk, but could not prevent the Chinese from breaking again and taking the opening set, 6-2.
Wang immediately broke again at the start of the second and consolidated with an ace to go 2-0 up.
Muguruza’s woes continued with her 18th unforced error offering up a 4th break point, which Wang snapped up to widen the gap.
The contrast between the two players was obvious, with Wang cool and determined, and Muguruza tense and stressed.
Out of luck and challenges, the Spaniard was staring at defeat as Wang systematically dismantled her to serve for the match at 5-0, which she did to love, winning 11 games on the trot to become the first Chinese to reach the final, with the previous best result being Zhang Shuai’s semi-final showing in 2016.
Wang Qiang had effectively demolished Muguruza in 72 minutes, making good on her second chance and using it to power herself into the final after a stunning win over the two-time Grand Slam champion and former World No 1, 6-2 6-0.
In the final the Chinese No 1 will take on Ashleigh Barty, who stopped Julia Goerges from defending her title when the No 9 seeded Australian upset the 2nd seeded German, 4-6 6-3 6-2, in an hour and 47 minutes to reach the biggest final of her career.
Wang trails Barty 0-1 in the pair’s head-to-head record after falling in straight sets against the Australian in Strasbourg earlier this year.
“Didn’t have any pressure today. Went on with the right mindset and nothing to lose,” smiled a relaxed Wang.
Nor will she on Sunday either.