SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — Carla Suarez Navarro advanced to the semifinals of the season-ending Tournament of Champions by beating Tsvetana Pironkova 7-6 (2), 6-1 on Friday.
The fifth-seeded Spanish player was under pressure knowing that only a straight-set victory would secure her spot in the semis.
Home favorite Pironkova tried hard but failed to convert two set points at 6-5 in the tiebreaker. Suarez Navarro took a quick 5-0 lead in the second set and allowed Pironkova just one game before clinching the set and her required victory.
“I knew, for sure, it would be tough here because the players are strong and whoever I play in the semifinals it will be difficult, but I’m ready,” Suarez Navarro said.
Germany’s Andrea Petkovic is the second player from the Sredets group to advance to the semifinals on Saturday when she will play Garbine Muguruza of Spain.
In her last group match, the 21-year old Spaniard defeated Alize Cornet 6-3, 7-5 to become the only player at the tournament with 3 wins in the round robin. Cornet had a 4-1 lead in the second set, but was unable to stop Muguruza recovering before winning in straight sets.
“In the second set, I was more nervous because I thought: “I am so close to win.” Also, she played better than in the first set,” said Venezuelan-born Muguruza.
In the Serdika group’s last match, Italy’s Flavia Pennetta whipped Karolina Pliskova from the Czech Republic 6-1, 6-3 and will face Suarez Navarro in the semifinals.
The more experienced Pennetta needed 65 minutes to edge the 22-year-old Pliskova who replaced top-seeded Ekaterina Makarova. The Russian pulled out of the tournament on Thursday due to a back injury.
This eight-player season-ending tournament is for players who have won one or more of the WTA International events during the year but failed to qualify for the WTA Finals, which was staged in Singapore last week.
This six-year-old tournament will move to Zhuhai, China, next year after a three-year run in Sofia.
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