March 4, 2021

Stage set for the semifinals

Exciting battles are on the cards at the Qatar Total Open after four fighting players reached the last-four stage of the popular tournament. Grand Slam star Petrva Kvitova of the Czech Republic and qualifier Jessica Pegula of the United States will clash in the semifinals of the Qatar Total Open after both players produced contrasting wins in the last-eight on Thursday.

Kvitova, seeded four, beat Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit in three feisty sets to seal her semifinals spot. Kvitova, winner of Wimbledon titles in 2011 and 2014, on Thursday won 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 in 1 hour and 56 minutes on the Centre Court. Kvitova now leads 5-2 in head-to-head against Kontaveit who had toppled former world number Angelique Kerber of Germany in the second round.

In what could be described as the upset of the tournament so far, qualifier Pegula ended the run of Karolina Pliskova who beat Ons Jabeur of Tunisia in the wee hours of Thursday. Pegula won 6-3, 6-1 to set up a semifinals clash against Kvitova on Friday. Pegula overcame an aces barrage from Pliskova to post her win in 1 hours and 2 minutes. Friday’s semifinal will be the first of her career at a WTA 500 event. Ranked 44, Pegula also beat Elina Svitolina at the Australian Open last month.

Former champion and wildcard entry Victoria Azarenka of Belarus survived pains in her back to stun top seed Elina Svitolina of Ukraine. Eighth seed Azarenka won 6-2, 6-4 in 85 minutes against an opponent playing her third quarterfinal of the year. Azarenka now leads 4-0 in head-to-head and gets ready for her 60th career semifinal appearance.

In the last quarterfinal on Thursday, Spain’s Garbine Muguruza beat Greece’s Maria Sakkari in straight sets. Muguruza, a multiple Grand Slam champion, won 6-3, 6-1 after firing four aces. Muguruza is now tied at 1-1 with Sakkari after two meetings . Muguruza will now meet Azarenka in the semifinal.