September 28, 2018 / 1:49 PM / 2 months ago

Tennis: Sabalenka to face Kontaveit for Wuhan title

Sep 3, 2018; New York, NY, USA; Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus serves against Naomi Osaka of Japan (not pictured) in the fourth round on day eight of the US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

(Reuters) - Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus overcame last year’s runner-up Ashleigh Barty 7-6(2) 6-4 in the Wuhan Open semi-finals on Friday to set up a title clash with Estonian Anett Kontaveit on Saturday.

Sabalenka began slowly and trailed 5-3 in the opening set. The 20-year-old broke back with some big first serves to level at 5-5 before taking the set in the tie-break.

The Belarusian switched gears in the next set and sealed victory over the Australian in one hour and 25 minutes, firing 26 winners in the match.

“I just tried to focus on my game and focus on every point and this was the key. Tomorrow I just want to enjoy myself and show my best,” Sabalenka said.

Barty said Sabalenka had had a phenomenal season.

“It was bound to happen, to be honest. She’s an absolute quality player.”

Sabalenka won her maiden trophy on the WTA Tour at the Connecticut Open in August.

Standing in her way is Kontaveit, who reached her first final of the season after her Chinese opponent Wang Qiang retired from their semi-final with a thigh problem while trailing 2-6 1-2.

Saturday’s match will be the first meeting between Kontaveit and Sabalenka.

Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Kevin Liffey

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