WTA Cincinnati: Ashleigh Barty, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Madison Keys reach SF

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WTA Cincinnati: Ashleigh Barty, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Madison Keys reach SF

For the third time in four encounters, Ashleigh Barty defeated Maria Sakkari to reach the semi-final in Cincinnati, her fifth on the Tour in 2019. Ashleigh prevailed 5-7, 6-2, 6-0 in an hour and 44 minutes, working hard just like in the previous match against Anett Kontaveit but finding the winning formula in sets two and three to seal the deal in style and stay on the title course.

The Aussie lost serve twice in the opener to give it away despite leading 5-2, with Maria bouncing back to take five straight games and steal it 7-5 with breaks in games nine and 11. That was all we saw from her, though, taking miserable four points on the return in sets two and three and never standing a chance of repeating that in her service games, dropping 12 out of the last 14 games to end her run in the quarters.

With nothing left in the tank to resist the better-ranked opponent, Sakkari lost the deciding set in 25 minutes to propel Barty into the last four and closer to regain no. 1 spot on Monday. The Russian veteran Svetlana Kuznetsova is through to the first semi-final since Washington previous year, ousting the 3rd seed Karolina Pliskova 3-6 7-6, 6-3 in two hours and 18 minutes, overcoming a 6-3, 5-3 deficit to survive and pass the tough obstacle.

Kuznetsova won just two points more than her rival, saving four out of six break points and delivering three breaks from 11 chances, performing an escape in the closing stages of the second set and never looking back in the decider.

Karolina was off to a great start, losing six points behind the initial shot in the first set and breaking already in game two for a 6-3. A break at 3-3 sent her up in set number two, saving a break chance in the next game to move one game away from the finish line and serving for the victory at 5-4.

With no room for errors, Svetlana broke back to extend the set, wasting two set points on the return in game 12 before taking the set 7-2 in the tie break to set up a decider where she had the momentum. The Russian broke in the third and ninth games of the final set to cross the finish line and ruin Pliskova's dreams of becoming world no.

1 once again. Madison Keys came to Cincinnati with three straight losses and is now in the second semi-final of the season after Charleston thanks to a commanding 6-2, 6-3 victory over a compatriot Venus Williams in an hour and 18 minutes.

Madison saved both break points she faced to keep her service games intact and mount the pressure on the veteran who couldn't produce the level of tennis we saw yesterday against Donna Vekic, dropping almost half of the points in her games and getting broken three times from eight chances given to Madison.

Settling into a great rhythm right from the start, Keys sailed through service games in the opener and broke Venus in games four and eight for a 6-2, securing another break at 4-3 in set number two to forge the crucial lead and cement the win with a hold at love a few minutes later.