Hong Kong Open: Wang Qiang stuns Garbine Muguruza, Elina Svitolina on same day to reach final
China’s No 1 reels off back-to-back victories at Victoria Park on Saturday, setting up a final against the underdog 18-year-old Dayana Yastremska
Wang Qiang is through to the Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open final after pulling double duty to beat Elina Svitolina and Garbine Muguruza on Saturday.
China’s No 1 battled back from 4-1 down in the deciding set to beat former world No 1 Muguruza 6-7(5), 6-4, 7-5 on Centre Court. She had earlier finished the job against Svitolina after their quarter-final had been suspended overnight for rain.
Wang will face surprise package Dayana Yastremska in Sunday’s final, after the 102-ranked 18-year-old from Ukraine saw off China’s No 2 Zhang Shuai 7-5, 6-4.
It could have all been so different, though – Wang revealed that she told her coach she thought she would be going home when she was broken twice by Muguruza in the third set.
“I had nothing to lose against her, she’s a really good player,” Wang said. “Both of us played really well today. I just tried to be more patient and then go for it.”
Wang’s first task on Saturday had been to close out a victory against Svitolina. She returned to Centre Court on Saturday afternoon 6-2, 5-3 up, but had her service broken before getting the job done at the next try.
“I felt nervous before the first match,” she said. “And then I go on court and I was still shaking a little bit, but after two games I think it’s OK, just go for it.”
In terms of her opponent’s ranking, beating world No 5 Svitolina was the biggest win of Wang’s career, continuing an impressive run since the US Open that has seen her rise to a career-high No 24.
The top 20 surely beckons for the 26-year-old, who won the title in Guangzhou and reached the semi-finals at Hiroshima, Wuhan and Beijing before making the final in Hong Kong.
“She’s [Yastremska] a young player, I think she’s playing really aggressive,” Wang said of her opponent for Sunday.
Muguruza will now head to Luxembourg as she puts the finishing touches on what has ultimately been a disappointing season for the former Wimbledon and French Open champion.
“She [Wang] played very well, especially in the important moments,” the Spaniard said. “She came back in the third set playing incredible tennis, and managed to play the whole third set like that.
“She was very solid, she was not missing. She was making the right shots and not giving anything free.
“I was happy to play here, I felt I was playing good, we both played very well. I leave with a good taste from here.
“It’s very tough when you’re playing great and it doesn’t go your way. We both fought until the last points.”
For Yastremska, a 2016 junior finalist at Wimbledon, it is still proving hard to process the success she has enjoyed this week.
“No, I didn’t imagine this because I didn’t feel good myself [when I arrived in Hong Kong], I couldn’t find my rhythm,” she said. “I’ve been nervous from the first ball here.
“Just after the first match I felt something change during the practice. I got that feeling, put it in my pocket, and continued with that – I was afraid to lose it.
“I found that moment when I felt everything was going well, I can control my game, and just match by match I got more confident.”
The first player born in this millennium to crack the world’s top 100, it was quite the comeback from Yastremska, who was 5-2 down in the first set and 3-0 down in the second set.
“I don’t know how to describe it. I just tried to keep myself calm,” she said. “I had a lot of emotions. I was just staying with the things I had to do.
“I’m not really thinking about other people, just about myself. If I know I can do it, I can do it. I’m not trying to show someone I can be in the finals, I’m not playing for them.”
“Of course everybody is excited and supporting me, and haters gonna hate,” she added, laughing. “My closest people are gonna support me always.
“I think for myself it will be very important to justify tomorrow, as I did in all the matches. I won’t be so sad if I lose but I know I’m still young. I will try my best to leave here with the trophy.”