Germany’s Julia Goerges will take on Latvian Anastasija Sevastova in the Hengqin Life WTA Elite Trophy semi-finals on Saturday afternoon (4.30pm local time) after Goerges scored a 62 76(4) win over Kristina Mladenovic in their final Azalea Group match.
Ashleigh Barty of Australia will take on American CoCo Vandeweghe in Saturday’s second singles semi-final (7pm local time).
Goerges went onto court against Mladenovic on Friday knowing that winning one set would be enough to earn her place in the last four of the $2,280,935 (USD) season-ending event in southern China.
The German started strongly, displaying the confidence earned from her recent title win at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow. Mladenovic dug in during the second set, though, and took advantage of a fractional dip in her opponent’s form to lead 5-3 before Goerges fought back to take the contest in a tiebreaker.
Retirements curtailed Friday’s other two singles matches. Chinese wildcard Shuai Peng earned a win when Elena Vesnina retired with a lower back injury in their final Bougainvillea Group match.
Sloane Stephens was also forced to retire against Barbora Strycova when she felt discomfort in her left knee during their final match in Camellia Group. Stephens is scheduled to be part of Team USA at next weekend’s Fed Cup final against Belarus but said she was hopeful of recovering in time to represent her country in Minsk.
JULIA GOERGES QUOTES:
On the match:
“I really wanted to win that match. It didn't matter if I had to win one set, but I don't want to go out with losing the match and still being in the semifinals. I think that's a bit weird.
"Well, my focus was to win that match, to try to do everything to be able to come out on top at the end. But after the first set, I really tried to hang in there to play every point in the first set. And, yeah, I lost a bit my focus and a little bit my tension on the body, so I wasn't as sharp as I was in the first set. I said it to my coach, too, because my serve got away a bit, and I lost completely my tension and my aggression for it."
"Kiki took well on it, and she really stepped well into the court and moved me more around, which I didn't really quite like, because that's obviously my game. Well, I tried to make sure that I come on top in the tiebreaker, and I think that was, yeah, there were some key moments in that tiebreaker, too."
“I think it was more the situation today knowing that I have to win one set to be in the semis. I think that's something which you don't experience that often. It's a bit weird, I must say. I rather just want to win the match or lose the match but not, like, just one set and then you keep on playing. It's a new situation, I would say.”
On her confidence:
“If you have a title on your back, I think it's nice to carry that around. But actually, once a new tournament starts, everything starts from zero.”
“For sure it does help you to know you have won some matches in the past and you have done probably the right things to win those matches, but as I said, everything starts from zero.”
“We know how tough this competition is. Well, I just try to focus on myself, and it's nice to finish the matches in two sets, but I don't mind if I play three or so. But at the end, if I come out on top, I think that's the most important thing.”
On facing Sevastova in the semi-finals:
“Well, tomorrow is another tough challenge. I will just try to focus on that and not really if it's two sets, three sets, or whatever it will be. It's going to be a very tough match, I think. We know each other for a very long time and have a lot of respect for each other.”
“Yeah, she's a very tricky player, and she has had a great season, as well. Well, it's just about battling it out tomorrow and the better one should win. At the same time, it's nice to share the court with her, because we have had a lot of connections in the past.”
“Once she retired for the first time, well, I was pretty sure she's coming back (smiling) because I kind of know her. Well, I was just glad to be able to share the court with her in Mallorca and to really see how she's still be there and she still plays finals and still wins titles.”
“Tomorrow I hopefully come out on top (smiling) and be able to beat her, but at the end of the day, the better one should win.”
SLOANE STEPHENS QUOTES:
On the injury:
"My knee wasn't doing what I wanted it to do, left knee. So, yeah, it's like it's better to just stop now, because obviously I wasn't moving too quickly out there. I just thought, yeah, better if I just stop. I have had it for a while. Obviously having foot surgery, a little bit of overcompensation. Just, you know, trying to make -- trying to keep playing, and I think now it's kind of just catching up with me."
"I think it's better now that I take care of it and try to recover as much as I can.”
On the upcoming Fed Cup final:
“We are playing in Belarus, so it will be tough. Before the US Open I never even thought I would be called to play, so it's pretty awesome. I'm excited to be able to play. Obviously I've got to get my knee in order first. Hopefully I can do that before next weekend.”
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HENGQIN LIFE WTA ELITE TROPHY ZHUHAI 2017 - ZHUHAI, CHINA $2,280,935 31 OCT - 5 NOV, 2017
ORDER OF PLAY - SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 04, 2017
STADIUM start 3:00 pm
 [WC] C. Liang (CHN) / Z. Yang (CHN) vs  Y. Duan (CHN) / X. Han (CHN)
Not Before 4:30 pm
 J. Goerges (GER) vs  A. Sevastova (LAT)
Not Before 7:00 pm
 C. Vandeweghe (USA) vs  A. Barty (AUS)
 J. Lu (CHN) / S. Zhang (CHN) vs  [WC] X. Jiang (CHN) / Q. Tang (CHN)
RESULTS - NOVEMBER 3, 2017
Singles - Round Robin - Azalea
 J. Goerges (GER) d  K. Mladenovic (FRA) 62 76(4)
Round Robin - Bougainvillea
 [WC] S. Peng (CHN) d  E. Vesnina (RUS) 62 10 Retired (Low Back Injury)
Round Robin - Camellia
 B. Strycova (CZE) d  S. Stephens (USA) 50 Retired (Left Knee Injury)
Women's Doubles - Round Robin - Orchid
 [WC] X. Jiang (CHN) / Q. Tang (CHN) d  A. Rosolska (POL) / A. Smith (GBR) 63 46 10-6
Final Group Standings
1. GOERGES, Julia [GER]
2. RYBARIKOVA, Magdalena [SVK]
3. MLADENOVIC, Kristina [FRA]
1. VANDEWEGHE, CoCo [USA]
2. PENG, Shuai [CHN]
3. VESNINA, Elena [RUS]
1. SEVASTOVA, Anastasija [LAT]
2. STRYCOVA, Barbora [CZE]
3. STEPHENS, Sloane [USA]
1. BARTY, Ashleigh [AUS]
2. PAVLYUCHENKOVA, Anastasia [RUS]
3. KERBER, Angelique [GER]