Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Resurgent Muguruza reaches Australian Open semis

Garbine Muguruza excelled in the Bank of the West
Classic at Stanford but has withdrawn from both edi-
tions of the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San
Jose, Calif., with injuries. File photo by Paul Bauman
   In a matchup of players with Northern California connections, unseeded Garbine Muguruza beat 30th-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 7-5, 6-3 on Tuesday in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open in Melbourne.
   Muguruza, who has tumbled from No. 1 in 2017 to No. 32, reached her first Grand Slam semifinal since the 2018 French Open. She excelled in the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford but has yet to appear in its replacement, having withdrawn from both editions of the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose, Calif., with injuries.
   At Stanford, Muguruza advanced to the semis in 2017, the tournament's last year, and the quarterfinals in 2014 at age 20. Also in 2014, she won the doubles title with fellow Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro.
   Pavlyuchenkova played for the Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis in 2006 at age 15. The team announced in 2014 that it was moving to Las Vegas after 28 years in Sacramento and folded one month later after the owner was charged with orchestrating a $150 million Ponzi scheme. He is serving a 20-year prison sentence.
   Muguruza is set to play fourth-seeded Simona Halep, who crushed 28th-seeded Anett Kontaveit of Estonia 6-1, 6-1 in 53 minutes, today not before 8:30 p.m. PST (ESPN2).
   Muguruza, 26, is 3-2 (3-0 on hardcourts) against Halep, 26. Both players have won two Grand Slam singles titles, taking the Wimbledon and French Open crowns.
   In the other women's semifinal, top-ranked Ashleigh Barty of Australia will meet 14th-seeded Sofia Kenin of Pembroke Pines, Fla., today at 7 p.m. (ESPN2). Barty leads the head-to-head series 4-1.
   On the men's side, seventh-seeded Alexander Zverev of Germany beat 15th-seeded Stan Wawrinka, the 2014 Australian Open champion, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 to reach his first Grand Slam semifinal.
   The 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Zverev, 22, is scheduled to meet fifth-seeded Dominic Thiem on Friday at 12:30 a.m. on ESPN2. Thiem knocked off top-seeded Rafael Nadal, the 2009 Australian Open champion and a four-time runner-up in Melbourne, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (4), 4-6, 7-6 (6). Nadal was trying to tie Roger Federer's record of 20 Grand Slam singles titles.
   Thiem, 26, is 6-2 (2-1 on hardcourts) against Zverev. If Zverev wins the title, he has pledged to donate his prize money of $2,853,100 (U.S.) to the Australian Bushfire Relief Fund.
   In the first men's semifinal, second seed and defending champion Novak Djokovic will face the third-seeded Federer on Thursday at 12:30 a.m. (ESPN2). Djokovic has won the Australian Open seven times and Federer six.
   Djokovic leads the head-to-head series 26-23 with four victories in the last five meetings. He's six years younger than the 38-year-old Federer, who saved seven match points and suffered a groin injury in a five-set victory over Tennys Sandgren in the quarterfinals.

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