China’s Wang Qiang beaten but not bowed by Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova at Hong Kong Tennis Open

Daria Gavrilova defeats Jennifer Brady in Saturday’s first clash at Victoria Park before Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova defeats China’s Wang Qiang to set-up final clash on Sunday

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 14 October, 2017, 1:43pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 October, 2017, 6:15pm

China’s Wang Qiang’s brave run at the Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open was finally ended on Saturday as she went down in straight sets to Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

The Chinese number three, who has been battling the effects of a bout of flu this week, threatened a comeback in the second set after going 5-2 down, but eventually ran out of steam against the steady Pavlyuchenkova who has bee quietly impressive this week.

We live blogged the day’s play. You can find that below.

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Welcome to South China Morning Post’s live coverage of the semi-finals of the Hong Kong Tennis Open.

Saturday’s first match on centre court starts at 2pm with Jennifer Brady of the United States facing Australia’s Daria Gavrilova.

Chinese number three Wang Qiang, who battled the flu while beating Australian Samantha Stosur on Friday, then bids for a place in Sunday’s final when she takes on Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia.

Father knows best? Gavrilova says Hong Kong Tennis Open wobble caused by ‘silly’ comment to her dad

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5.02pm

Pavlyuchenkova 6-4, 6-3 Wang (Pavlyuchenko wins 2-0)

And that’s the end. Good performance from Pavyluchenkova, she’s been steadily progressing under the radar this week and will now play Daria Gavrilova in Sunday’s finale. Sterling effort from Wang Qiang. She has shown that she’s a top drawer player this week, and while nursing a bad cold too!

5.02pm

Pavlyuchenkova 5-4 Wang (Pavlyuchenko leads 1-0 in sets)

Super stuff from the Chinese and this centre court crowd shows it’s appreciation as she breaks Pavlyuchenkova to get back in it. She’s not going out with a whimper here.

4.58pm

Pavlyuchenkova 5-3 Wang (Pavlyuchenko leads 1-0 in sets)

That was quick. Wang holds her serve to extend the match, but Pavlyuchenkova is serving for a spot in the final now.

4.56pm

Pavlyuchenkova 5-2 Wang (Pavlyuchenko leads 1-0 in sets)

And just like that, the match has turned. The Russian holds a commanding lead now, and should soon seal her place in the final.

4.46pm

Pavlyuchenkova 2-2 Wang (Pavlyuchenko leads 1-0 in sets)

Wang is back on terms. A solid hold and we definitely have a match on our hands now.

4.41pm

Pavlyuchenkova 2-1 Wang (Pavlyuchenko leads 1-0 in sets)

There’s the battle we were looking for. Wang bites back and is on serve. She’ll still need a break, but there’s life in this match yet.

4.37pm

Pavlyuchenkova 2-0 Wang (Pavlyuchenko leads 1-0 in sets)

Home hopes are sinking quick here. Wang has managed to battle her way to the semis, but I’m getting more pessimistic about her chances now as Pavlyuchenkova goes two up and is on serve.

4.29pm

Pavlyuchenkova 6-3 Wang (Pavlyuchenko leads 1-0 in sets)

Pavlyuchenko wraps up the opening set in 37 minutes. Wang has been game against the favourite, but she needs a massive effort now.

4.26pm

Pavlyuchenkova 5-3 Wang

The Russian holds her serve, a rare occurrence today, and pulls clear of Wang.

4.20pm

Pavlyuchenkova 4-3 Wang

Can anyone hold serve in this match? No sooner had Wang broken the Russian, than Pavlyuchenkova bit back

4.16pm

Pavlyuchenkova 3-3 Wang

The Chinese is doing more than just hang in there now. She breaks again to take the sixth game and they’re level at 3-3. This is building up to be a great match here on centre court.

4.12pm

Pavlyuchenkova 3-2 Wang

Wang is still hanging in there – in spite of her illness. Imagine how god she could be if she was fully fit!

4.00pm

Pavlyuchenkova 2-1 Wang

The Russian is broken, but then breaks back. No one held serve yet in this match.

“I was not happy with my performance last night,” says Daria Gavrilova in the media room. “So I made sure I was better today.” A big understatement from the Australian. But she was mightily impressive in defeating Jennifer Brady today.

3.34pm

Pavlyuchenkova 1-0 Wang

Slow start from the Chinese as she’s broken at the start of the match.

3.34pm

Now for the main event as an ailing Wang Qiang, China’s number three, makes an unlikely and quite incredible bid for glory despite being struck down by illness this week. She was close to calling it quits in her quarter-final match against Australian Sam Stosur yesterday, but she battled on and made the semis. Looking for her maiden WTA title, the Chinese will need to be at her best to make the final. Pavlyuchenkova has been quietly impressive this week.

‘I couldn’t even see the ball’ … but flu can’t stop China’s Wang Qiang reaching Hong Kong Tennis Open semis

3.34pm

Gavrilova 7-5, 0-6 Brady (Gavrilova wins 2-0)

And that’s the match for Daria Gavrilova. The Australian looked very good today. Far better than yesterday. Brady has had a good tournament, but this is as far as she goes. We have our first finalist for the Hong Kong Open. Gavrilova will meet either Wang Qiang or Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the final.

3.31pm

Gavrilova 6-5 Brady (Gavrilova leads 1-0 in sets)

Brady is battling hard, but Gavrilova is playing very well indeed. She breaks to go 6-5 up and is one game away from the Hong Kong final.

3.18pm

Gavrilova 5-5 Brady (Gavrilova leads 1-0 in sets)

Brady breaks back! The American’s not going down without a fight

3.21pm

Gavrilova 5-4 Brady (Gavrilova leads 1-0 in sets)

It’s tough on the American as she’s broken again. Gavrilova serving for the match.

3.18pm

Gavrilova 4-4 Brady (Gavrilova leads 1-0 in sets)

Finally, Brady breaks back and gets a foothold in the match. Now she needs to hold.

3.10pm

Gavrilova 3-2 Brady (Gavrilova leads 1-0 in sets)

Brady needs to fight hard to get back into his match and that’s what she’s doing. The American holds her serve to stay in it. But she’s running out of time to break the Australian.

3.00pm

Gavrilova 3-2 Brady (Gavrilova leads 1-0 in sets)

Brady is battling hard for a foothold in this match. She holds her serve in the fifth but she’s still a break down. Gavrilova is looking good here after yesterday’s wobble.

2.52pm

Gavrilova 2-1 Brady (Gavrilova leads 1-0 in sets)

It was better from Brady, but she fails to hold her serve again and goes 2-1 down. She has a real battle on her hands now.

2.48pm

Gavrilova 1-1 Brady (Gavrilova leads 1-0 in sets)

It’s better from Brady, much better. She holds serve for the first time in the match to get on the board. Gavrilova bites back and we go to 1-1.

We’ve had a rare old time this week at Victoria Park, but it would be disingenuous to suggest it’s been all plain sailing. Check out my column on the difficulties this week has thrown up.

2.34pm

We’re having trouble remembering an easier set all week. Gavrilova takes the opener from Brady in just 22 minutes. A 6-0 bagel to boot. Brady needs to regroup quickly.

Double whammy leaves Hong Kong tennis fans wondering what will be served up in future

2.31pm

I suspect even Gavrilova is a little it taken aback by how east this has been, especially after her struggles last night. Just 18 minutes gone, and the Australian is 5-0 up.

2.26pm

3-0 quickly turns into 4-0. The American looks a wee bit shell-shocked here.

2.21pm

Brady’s resolve is quickly tested as she is broken in the opener. Then she goes two, and three games down. Jus nine minutes in and Gavrilova looks in complete control here. Brady’s day just got a lot harder.

2.13pm

Play begins. American Brady is a big outsider to progress here today – almost 2-1 with most bookies – but she’s put together a good run here this week, her best of the season, and looks confident.