World No. 1 and title holder Ashleigh Barty held onto her rank by qualifying for the final of the Miami tournament, unlike the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas, fifth in the world, overthrown in the quarter-finals by the surprising Pole Hubert Hurkacz.
The 24-year-old Australian, winner of the event in 2019, beat the Ukrainian, 5th in the world, Elina Svitolina 6-3, 6-3.
She will seek a 10th title on the WTA circuit on Saturday, against the Canadian Bianca Andreescu (9th world) or the Greek Maria Sakkari (25th world) opposed in the night session.
Faced with Svitolina, a feared opponent, who had beaten her six times in their previous seven confrontations, including once in this round of 16 2018 then played on the former site of Key Biscayne, Barty knew she would have still a lot to do.
So she was aggressive from the first exchanges of the first set, pocketed after a successful break from the start and a second to conclude it.
Thereupon, she momentarily left the court, citing a medical time-out for abdominal discomfort, which required a few minutes later the intervention of a doctor, who came to apply a patch after the 3rd game (2-1) of the second round.
– White year –
Immediately afterwards, the two players, particularly feverish about their commitment, exchanged pleasantries with three breaks, one more in favor of Barty, who remained the most solid to finish in 1:27.
His journey to the final was not easy. She had to save a match point as soon as she entered the competition against Slovakian Kristina Kucova after qualifying, before fighting two fierce battles against Belarusians Victoria Azarenka and Aryna Sabalenka.
“It does not happen very often to get by having erased a match point. It makes you more open to the idea that anything is possible for the rest of the tournament”, explained Barty who had precisely the Wednesday. certainty of retaining her place of world No. 1, after the surprise elimination of her runner-up, the Japanese Naomi Osaka, swept 6-0, 6-4 by Maria Sakkari.
To complete her Florida career, the title is now required for the one coming out of a white year 2020, upset by the coronavirus pandemic, during which she did not want to leave her country. She therefore did not compete in the US Open, won by Osaka, nor Roland Garros, of which she was the title holder, the Polish Iga Swiatek succeeding her in the list.
Her return to the courts was therefore almost a year later, at the beginning of February at her home in Australia, with an immediate victory at the modest Yarra Valley Classic. But at the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam of the year, she was stopped in quarterback by the Czech Karolina Muchova.
– “I lost control” –
On the men’s side, Hubert Hurkacz, 37th in the world, defeated the predictions by beating Stefanos Tsitsipas 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, to advance for the first time in his career to a semi-final of a Masters 1000 .
He was all the less favorite as he had so far deplored six defeats in their first seven confrontations. And as the last five duels having opposed them, it was played quite tightly in three sets.
Tsitsipas however led 6-2, 2-0. “And there I lost control. The credit goes to Hurkacz, but it is a very disappointing defeat, I had an opportunity to seize in this tournament”, regretted the world N.5, who saw his opponent raise his level of play and force the passage to a third set.
A moment of tension then arose between the chair umpire and the Greek, the first criticizing the second for taking too long to change shirts. A warning without penalty at the end, which did not wake Tsitsipas and even less disturb Hurkacz.
The Pole continued to gain the upper hand, stealing the opposing serve at 3-2 to fly to his best victory to date in a Masters 1000.
He will play Friday for a place in the final against the Russian Andrey Rublev (8th in the world) or the American Sebastian Korda (87th), son of the former winner of the Australian Open (1998), Petr Korda.