Russian No.5 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova moved into the second WTA final of her career at the Shenzhen Open as she brushed past former world No.1 Garbine Muguruza 6-4 6-3 in one hour and 16 minutes on Centre Court.
After both players held serve for the first five games, world No.34 Alexandrova (career high) struck first with a break in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead, and although she squandered three set points en route to losing her first service game at 5-3, the Russian put paid to any hopes of a Muguruza resurgence when she broke the Spaniard in the next game to take a one set lead.
With the momentum in her favor, the 25-year-old took five of the next six games for a 5-1 lead. Sixth seed Muguruza, currently ranked just one spot lower than her opponent at No.35, got her first break of the set in the next game before saving match point to hold serve and make it 5-3, but she was merely delaying the inevitable.
Big-hitting Alexandrova took the next three points to give herself triple match points and closed out the match on the second attempt with a powerful forehand drive down the line.
Meanwhile, Kazakhstan’s in-form phenom Elena Rybakina did not drop a single game in a commanding 6-2 7-5 victory over Kristyna Pliskova to move into her third career final in six months.
The seventh seeded 20-year-old hit nine aces and saved all three break points she faced during the match, while converting three of the six she fashioned against the big-serving Czech.
The Moscow native, who changed allegiance from Russia to Kazakhstan last year, will be gunning for her second career title tomorrow, having picked up her maiden trophy at Bucharest last July.
Rybakina and Alexandrova have only met once off the Tour at the Czech Tennis Extraliga last December, where the Russian prevailed in three sets.