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Thailand Open, tennis: Tsurenko advances past Andreescu, to face Zhu in final

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Thailand Open, tennis: Tsurenko advances past Andreescu, to face Zhu in final

Hua Hin (Thailand), Feb 4 (Ajit Weekly News) Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko reached her first final in over four years after No.1 seed Bianca Andreescu retired from their semifinal match at the Thailand Open 2023 tennis tournament, here on Saturday.

Four-time WTA titlist Tsurenko was leading Andreescu 7-5, 4-0 before the 2019 US Open champion from Canada stopped the match after 1 hour and 35 minutes of play.

This will be Tsurenko’s first final since a runner-up showing to Karolina Pliskova at 2019 Brisbane. That was Tsurenko’s first loss in a final after she started her career a perfect 4-0 in her first four Hologic WTA Tour singles finals.

On Saturday in Thailand, the first four games went against serve before Andreescu used commanding returns to break Tsurenko for 4-3. Andreescu served for the first set at 5-4, but Tsurenko found winners from both wings to break back at love for 5-5.

Andreescu took her first medical time-out late in the first set, while Tsurenko raised her groundstroke game, breaking at love again to take the one-set lead. All told, Tsurenko won the last eight games of the match before Andreescu retired.

In the final, the former top 25 player Tsurenko will face Zhu Lin of China. Zhu moved into the first WTA Tour singles final of her career by defeating her compatriot Wang Xinyu, the No.7 seed, 6-2, 6-4 in 1 hour and 37 minutes.

Zhu and Wang have successfully teamed up to reach this week’s doubles final, but in Saturday’s first singles semifinal, it was 28-year-old Zhu who held the upper hand over her 21-year-old countrywoman.

“Happy to win the semifinal against Xinyu. We are close friends, it [is] very tough to play against each other, ’cause we know each other so well. I’m happy that I handled it very well,” Zhu said after her win.

Zhu won 65 percent of points returning the Wang first serve — a higher success rate than she had returning second serves — and converted six of her nine break points on the day.

Zhu’s first career final improves her win-loss record this season to 9-3. She is currently at a career-high ranking of World No.54 after starting 2023 with a run to the Auckland quarterfinals, followed by a Grand Slam breakthrough at the Australian Open.

At the Australian Open, Zhu notched her first career Top 10 win over Maria Sakkari to reach the Round of 16 at a major for the first time. Zhu was even a set away from her first Grand Slam quarterfinal, leading Victoria Azarenka by a set before falling to the two-time Australian Open champion.

Tsurenko has won her only previous meeting with Zhu, in three sets at 2019 Dubai.

–Ajit Weekly News

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