Last four standing square off for finals berths

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It’s women’s semi-finals at the Connecticut Open with the last-standing seed squaring off against a rising star, and a former top-tenner meeting an Olympic gold medalist.

Completing the night session will be a trio of American greats – former world No.1 John McEnroe, Fairfield’s own former world No.4 James Blake and former world No.4 Todd Martin.

[5] Julia Goerges vs. Aryna Sabalenka

German fifth seed Julia Goerges speaks of an inner-calm she has worked on in recent years and in 2018, the spin-off  has been a career-best season. It is all coming together for the 29-year-old lately. A run to her first Grand Slam semi-final at Wimbleon and a career-high ranking of world No.9 this week has Goerges on the up. After registering her first win in three attempts against left-handed Russian Ekaterina Makarova in the quarter-finals she looked like a woman who belonged among the sport’s elite. Goerges did it the hard way, recovering from a break down to hold off Ukrainian teenager Dayana Yastremska in the second round. She will need to be on her game when she squares off against another fearless Eastern European, Aryna Sabalenka, for a place in the final. The power-hitting Belarusian has the power, the precision and the fierce competitiveness to be a force of the future. After battling past defending champion Daria Gavrilova to reach the quarter-finals, the 20-year-old was even more impressive in her straight-sets dismissal of Swiss Belinda Bencic on Thursday. Sabalenka will be gunning for her third final of the season as she continues her search for that maiden tour title. She beat Goerges from a set down in their only prior meeting en route to the Eastbourne final in June.

Carla Suarez Navarro vs. Monica Puig

With arguably the most fluid single-handed backhand in the women’s game, when Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro is in full flight it makes for an impressive shot-making display. On Thursday night, the 29-year-old brought that intensity to take the opening set against three-time champion Petra Kvitova before the Czech retired with a  left shoulder injury. It was a disappointing end but thrust the Spaniard into her first semi-final of the season. The former world No.6 faces another woman with an aesthetically pleasing game, Puerto Rican qualifier Monica Puig. The 24-year-old notched her fourth career top 10 win on Thursday with a three-set triumph over No.2 seed Caroline Garcia. This will be her first semi-final since Luxembourg last season and will go some way to rebuilding her ranking after a slew of injuries sent her crashing from a career-best of world No.27 in 2016. It was in that year that Puig provided one of the stand-out stories of the Rio Olympic Games, where she downed then No.1 Angelique Kerber to clinch the gold medal for Puerto Rico. Suarez Navarro leads the pair’s head-to-head series 4-1 but the pair hasn’t played in nearly three years.

 

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