Kontaveit blasts past Muguruza, Sakkari stops Halep to make Moscow semis

No.9 seed Anett Kontaveit of Estonia continued her successful methods on the VTB Kremlin Cup on Friday, dismissing No.2 seed Garbiñe Muguruza of Spain, 6-1, 6-1, of their quarterfinal conflict.

Kontaveit leveled their head-to-head at two wins apiece with the commanding 48-minute victory over former World No.1 Muguruza, as she claimed a semifinal spot in Moscow for the primary time in her profession.

Quick info: World No.20 Kontaveit has triumphed in 19 of her final 21 matches throughout her late-season surge, which incorporates her second and third WTA singles titles, at Cleveland and Ostrava respectively.

By ousting World No.5 Muguruza, Kontaveit collected the fourth Prime 5 win of her profession, and improves to 2-0 in opposition to Prime 5 opposition this season. She additionally defeated then-World No.4 Sofia Kenin on the indoor clay courts of Stuttgart this spring.

Story of the match: Kontaveit swept by way of the affair, successful almost 90 % of factors behind her first serve, and changing 5 of her seven break factors. With 22 winners to solely 10 unforced errors, Kontaveit managed play along with her highly effective recreation from begin to end.

Kontaveit’s command efficiency began early, when she cracked a crosscourt backhand return for a winner and a break for 2-0. One other return winner from that facet gave the Estonian a second break for 5-1, and he or she served out the set within the subsequent recreation, ending the opening body with two consecutive aces.

After giving up a right away break within the first recreation of the second set, Muguruza finally had an opportunity to squeeze her means into the match, garnering her first break factors of the day at 0-40 within the subsequent recreation. Kontaveit, although, was on a mission, powering her means out of that jam by successful 5 straight factors to carry for 2-0.

Kontaveit cruised house from there, wrapping up the match with a service break at love that concluded with one last backhand return winner.

Subsequent up: Kontaveit will tackle Olympic silver medalist Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic within the semifinals, after Vondrousova ousted Russian No.1 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of their quarterfinal.

Vondrousova has overwhelmed Kontaveit each instances they’ve beforehand performed, together with a come-from-behind three-setter within the first spherical of Wimbledon earlier this 12 months.

Maria Sakkari claimed the final semifinal spot in Moscow, because the No.3 seed from Greece ousted No.8 seed Simona Halep of Romania, 6-4, 6-4.

Within the first assembly between the pair, Sakkari fended off a livid second-set comeback by former World No.1 Halep, and ultimately prevailed in an hour and 44 minutes to achieve the ultimate 4 in Moscow for the primary time.

Quick info: Sakkari, like Kontaveit, has had a stable end to the season, because the Greek has now made the semifinals at three of her final 4 occasions. That run notably consists of her second Grand Slam semifinal displaying of the season on the US Open, and a visit to her first last since 2019 in Ostrava.

Sakkari, at the moment at a career-high rating of World No.7 (the highest-ranked Greek girl in WTA rankings historical past), will take that spectacular type into her Akron WTA Finals debut subsequent month. She clinched her spot within the year-ending championships on Thursday after advancing into the Moscow quarterfinals.

Halep continues to be searching for her first Prime 10 win of the season, after lacking three months of motion attributable to a calf harm. The Romanian, a former Roland Garros and Wimbledon champion who missed each of these occasions this summer time, has reached just one semifinal this 12 months and has seen her rating slip to its present place of World No.19 after her injury-plagued 2021.

Key moments: Sakkari earned the primary break to steer 3-1, however when she served for the opening set at 5-3, rallies with dueling dropshots went in Halep’s favor because the Romanian pulled again on serve. Nonetheless, a grueling 10-minute recreation adopted, the place Sakkari held 5 set factors earlier than lastly breaking once more to clinch the one-set lead.

The Greek began the second set strongly, breaking for 2-0 with an incredible forehand winner down the road. Sakkari prolonged her result in 5-1 and queued up an opportunity to serve out a routine victory. However after Sakkari reached match level there, the tenacious play of Halep began an eye-opening comeback, as she punched a volley winner on her fourth break level of that recreation.

Halep received eight of the subsequent 9 factors as she drew errors from Sakkari, and the Romanian all of the sudden was again on serve at 5-4. Nonetheless, Sakkari regrouped within the subsequent recreation, reclaiming her aggressive play from the sooner levels to understand two extra match factors. Halep saved the primary with a successful backhand, however Sakkari transformed the second with a fiery forehand.

Subsequent up: Sakkari will now tackle Ekaterina Alexandrova, the final remaining Russian, for a spot within the VTB Kremlin Cup last. Alexandrova shocked No.1 seed Aryna Sabalenka earlier on Friday.

Sakkari has dominated her rivalry with Alexandrova, having received all three of their earlier conferences. Nonetheless, this will likely be their first matchup since 2019, and solely their second Tour-level conflict total.

Extra to observe…

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